Mon | Sep 24, 2018

Delegates say Damion - PNP gets three new vice-presidents as McNeill only incumbent to retain his post

Published:Sunday | September 16, 2018 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue
Damion Crawford (centre) raised triumphantly after the results were announced.
Damion Crawford supporters claiming victory at the National Arena yesterday.
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Delegates of the People's National Party (PNP) signalled a seismic shift in its operation yesterday as they gave the most votes to the two youngest of the candidates for the four vice-president posts.

When the result of the vice-presidential election was announced at 7 p.m. yesterday by PNP General Secretary Julian Robinson, Crawford emerged on top with 1,973 votes, followed by Mikael Phillips with 1,782, Dr Wykeham McNeill with 1,766, and Phillip Paulwell with 1,645.

Two incumbents and long-serving Comrades, Dr Fenton Ferguson with 1,307 votes and Angela Brown Burke with 1,577 votes, were left out of the PNP's inner circle.

"The people and the PNP have never given up on me, and I hope to make this an example that when you are down, you are not out, and from nothing, you can be something. I am coming from nowhere two years ago, and now I am a vice-president of the PNP," Crawford told The Sunday Gleaner after the results were announced.

 

BREATH OF FRESH AIR

 

Earlier, Kingston Central Member of Parliament Ronald Thwaites had hinted that he would be voting for the young candidates as he told The Sunday Gleaner that the PNP at 80 years, needed a breath of fresh air.

"The slate of vice-presidents includes some younger people and some wiser people. Wiser people who I think can surround the leader and the party as a whole and lead it to a more radical approach to those who are most needy in Jamaica," said Thwaites.

"My view is that the present political economy of Jamaica can never take the majority of people to the level of opportunity, prosperity, or progress that they need to go, that they deserve to go.

"And, therefore, we need to look in a fundamental way at issues with land, the transformation of education, the fostering of small business, and the restoration of personal and family life," added Thwaites.

This marks the first time in 40 years that the PNP will not have a woman among its top leadership, a blow to its popular former president, Portia Simpson Miller, who served years as a vice-president before becoming the first female PNP president, and later, the first female prime minister of Jamaica.

Speaking exclusively to The Sunday Gleaner yesterday, Simpson Miller, who sported a Paulwell cap, said that she was retired but was "ready to serve my party. Anything they want me to go out there and do for them, I will", she pledged.

It was clearly an election that the delegates took seriously as a steady stream of voters from the different regions kept electoral officials busy before midday, with delegates from out of town regions casting their ballots early.

A lull in intensity and activity in the afternoon led to faces of expectancy as the polls closed.

- Romario Scott contributed to the story.

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com