'I don't hold a panacea' - Campbell defends Region One stewardship despite election losses
Dayton Campbell, the People's National Party (PNP) chairman for Region One, is questioning the focus on parishes he leads when other regions performed worse in Monday's local government elections.
He said questions should also be asked of Ian Hayles, who heads the party's Region Six, which has seen its division count slashed to 16 from the 31 that were won in the 2012 local government polls.
Region One comprises Trelawny and St Ann. The two parishes have swung to the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) with some key traditionally strong PNP divisions and high-profile Comrades, including St Ann's Bay Mayor Desmond Gilmore, losing.
Campbell also lost all four divisions in his St Ann North Western constituency, including the PNP bastion of Brown's Town, which had not gone green in almost 30 years.
"When I came to North West St Ann, we had only one councillor. We had lost the other three. It was a similar thing in 2012 when we won three. You always have three of the divisions that go with whichever party that is in power," he said.
BROWN'S TOWN SURPRISE
Continuing, the MP added: "The only surprise in my constituency would be the Brown's Town division that was lost. In February of this year, I won that division by 745 votes, so clearly the issue is not a PNP issue or an issue with me. I realise that persons have taken issue with my constituency."
Campbell also had an explanation for why the JLP broke the PNP's stranglehold on the Moneague division in Lisa Hanna's St Ann South Eastern constituency - a historically solid PNP area.
"I became regional chairman three months ago. Since becoming chairman, this is the first time it has happened in the region. I drove to each one of these constituencies, sat down and met with the campaign teams of all the divisions, gave them the instruments to get them prepared.
"If you're going to assess regional chairmen's performances, then you have to look at all the regions and see how many regions lost seats. In St Ann, we lost six seats and in Trelawny we lost one. We lost five divisions in Westmoreland and 11 in St James. But I don't hear anybody talking about Region Six. There seems to be this fixation with Dayton Campbell. I don't hold a panacea."
Hayles is chairman of Region Six and MP for Hanover Western. Region Six comprises St James, Westmoreland and Hanover.
Hayles lost one of the three divisions (Lucea) won by the PNP in 2012. Based on Monday's preliminary results, the PNP has won 16 of the 38 divisions in the region. In 2012, the party won 31.
The PNP's defeat in Moneague is being linked to the ongoing strife dominating PNP organisation in Hanna's constituency. PNP President Portia Simpson Miller's inflammatory remarks, in trying to quell the rebellion when she went into the parish earlier this month, did not appear to help.
Vernon Williams, a PNP member who left the party to run as an independent, amassed 787 votes to the PNP's Lloyd Garrick, who polled 777. The JLP's Delroy Kelly prevailed with 807 votes, based on the preliminary results.