Dennis, Golding ready for showdown in St Andrew South race
THE Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) candidate in the much-anticipated square-off for the St Andrew South constituency, Dane Dennis, has plans to address key issues like housing infrastructure and helping to return small and medium-sized business people to the community.
Speaking with The Gleaner ahead of Monday's by-elections, Dennis' campaign manager, Donahue Martin Jr, stressed that the JLP's candidate is a man of St Andrew South soil and, therefore, is more in touch with various plights experienced by its residents.
Dennis, who will contest the seat against the People's National Party's (PNP) Mark Golding, is a hospitality and tourism professional by trade, a lecturer at two universities, and is also a member of the JLP's youth affiliate group, Young Jamaica.
"He is from the constituency, and that is a part of our selling point. He is from Wilton Gardens, affectionately known as Rema, in the constituency. We intend to release a detailed manifesto (this week), but we have been on a listening tour to hear the concerns. The main points of that manifesto will be infrastructure development, and trying to bring back jobs.
"I can speak for Jones Town and Arnett Gardens. You had a lot of small to medium-sized factories in that community that left for various reasons - one being violence and the other being socio- economic problems. With a Jamaica Labour Party Government, we are confident that businesses will thrive and we encourage a lot of those businesses to come back in our constituency," Martin outlined.
"A lot of the houses were built by the Government some time ago and need to be retrofitted. In Rema, some of the structures are literally crumbling. In addition, there is even enough space where new homes can be built, and I am speaking particularly about Rose Town and Rema.
"Rose Town, as it stands, does not have a proper recreational facility for young people. All these things, I believe, will give the community a facelift and young people could burn off steam and keep off street corners."
He stressed as well that Dennis is confident of victory, highlighting that the constituency has consistently proven to be a PNP stronghold, but that little has been done over the years to alleviate the level of poverty existing throughout.
"At the end of the day, the constituency has not benefited from continuous People's National Party members of parliament. I invite you one day to walk with us, particularly in Jones Town. It looks likes some rural communities, deserted, with overgrown shrubbery and a lack of street lighting. This is a PNP constituency, and some would even consider it one of the poorest constituencies. We implore the well-thinking citizens of South St Andrew to vote for the Jamaica Labour Party candidate, Dane Dennis. He is a child of the soil. He believes in his constituency. He believes that the constituency is destined for greatness," Martin said.
... Mark Golding says he has been part of the constituency for 10 years
In the meantime, People's National Party (PNP) candidate, Mark Golding, told The Gleaner on Wednesday that he has been known to the constituents of St Andrew South for the last 10 years, but that his official campaign started after the 2016 general election.
"Dr (Omar) Davies had essentially delegated to me a lot of his responsibilities as member of parliament. We stay in touch on a daily basis. I have been active there now for a year and a half. Prior to that, I was on the constituency's executive for 10 years. For six of those, I was vice-chairman. I attended monthly meetings of the executive and helped with fundraising and so on, so I have familiarity with the issues of the constituency through that process, building relationships with the people," said Golding.
"I am a person who has accumulated significant experience through my career - both in the private sector as a legal practitioner. I have experience in the financial sector, through investment banking; and my experience in the public sector as minister of justice and as a parliamentarian, having done 10 years in the Senate. That experience and the relationships I have built over the years are important sources of knowledge and support for the work that needs to be done in the constituency. I think that is an area where I would have a significant advantage over my young opponent. Apart from that, I have been far more active in the constituency for a longer period than he has, although he hails from the community."