Sat | Jan 16, 2021

School bell rings! - Holness announces by-election date; principal, Rhodes scholar summoned to the polls

Published:Sunday | February 4, 2018 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer
Dr Nigel Clarke (left) and Duane Smith at a Jamaica Labour Party Area Council One meeting held yesterday at the Pembroke Hall Community Centre in St Andrew.
Andrew Holness (left), leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), moves to shake hands with Duane Smith (right), councillor for the Chancery Hall Division, and Dr Nigel Clarke (centre), new caretaker for North St Andrew, during an Area Council One meeting yesterday.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has announced March 5 as the date voters in North West St Andrew will go to the polls to elect their new member of parliament.

Nomination day will be February 12, Holness also announced.

The prime minister made the announcement during a jam-packed Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Area Council One meeting at the the Pembroke Hall Community Centre in the heart of the constituency yesterday.

The announcement triggered dancing and loud bell ringing among the Labourites present, many of them shouting "Showa! Showa! Showa Labourites!"

The prime minister and JLP leader confirmed that Dr Nigel Clarke will run on the party's ticket, putting to rest the issue of who will take over the chairmanship of the constituency.

"His role is first and foremost to represent you, the people of North West St Andrew. This man is a Rhodes scholar, bright man, but he will learn a different type of scholarship when it comes to roads. Because, this constituency have some serious roads issues," Holness said.




Fresh off victory in South East St Mary, Holness is favouring his chances with Clarke, despite his being a political neophyte.

The decision to confirm Clarke as the party's candidate was not without controversy as there was initial pushback from both outgoing Member of Parliament Derrick Smith and his son, Duane, with the elder Smith vowing not to support Clarke if he was parachuted into the constituency.

However, yesterday there was a 180-degree turn, and the former adversaries emerged with a strong showing of unity between them, though Duane Smith admitted to feeling hurt by the rejection of his application to succeed his father.

"The constituency of North West St Andrew is very lucky to have Dr Nigel Clarke. Dr Clarke is a good man! He is a Rhodes scholar, so him will learn fast. I am 100 per cent behind Dr Clarke," Smith said, offering a warm embrace to Clarke.

"Something you should know about me. Throughout my life, I have tried not to do anything half-hearted. I try to give everything I do the full one hundred, and it will be no different here," Clarke said in his maiden speech in his new role.

"From this moment on, as long as you have me as your caretaker and then member of parliament, I say to you, half of me belongs to you and the other half is yours. I am all in," he further said to loud cheers from JLP supporters.

Clarke will face off against the People's National Party's Keisha Hayle, principal of Padmore Primary, also a political neophyte.