Meet the newcomers: Fayval Williams in it for the long haul
Having made up her mind to make a significant and positive difference in the lives of the citizens of North East St Andrew, 15 years from now Fayval Williams - the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), candidate - wants one thing in return.
She would like the people in all the communities to say, "that woman knows how to create jobs and speed up the economy; because of her I have a house, a job, I can afford health care and I can send my children to school."
Speaking to The Gleaner in a recent interview, the married mother of two who resides in the constituency she serves, is not new to the politics. She has been actively working in the constituency for the last two years and was also its treasurer during St Aubyn Bartlett's tenure.
While studying and working in the United States for 20 years, she and her family always maintained their links with Jamaica with a view to returning home at the right time.
"When I returned to Jamaica, my goal was to relax and tour the island but after two months of that, I went to work with Jamaica Money Market Brokers for the next three years, followed by the Financial Services Commission and then Kingston Properties," Williams said. But she left to focus fully on politics.
So with all the negative feedback about the political landscape in Jamaica, why under the heavens would someone armed with an undergraduate degree in Economics and an MBA in Finance plus a thriving business, want to enter the local political fray?
Without missing a beat, Williams said she is an educated woman who has had the benefit of excellent education both in Jamaica and the United States. She added that having lived in Jamaica during the turbulent '70s, she also knows about the suffering that Jamaicans endured under the then Michael Manley led democratic socialist government.
"The People's National Party (PNP), has been in power for most of the last 25 years, but look at the economy; they are not the party to take the country into a bright future," she opined.
Heart in right place
Another consideration for Williams joining forces with the JLP at this time, she says is that having come into the party as an adult, she knows that they are not perfect but their hearts are in the right place with regard to Jamaica and wanting the people to better themselves.
Also, having lived in the United States, Williams understands how seriously that country takes giving everyone the opportunity to thrive and have purchasing power. "With that learning and the financial wherewithal, I decided to step forward to represent the constituency where we live."
Williams said she has grown tired of seeing Jamaica not generating enough for its citizens to reach their full potential. She has seen Jamaicans living lives collectively below their potential and in communities that had piles of garbage and lack of basic amenities.
As a businesswoman, she said she often wondered how come entrepreneurs pay taxes on time yet they don't get a simple tax compliant certificate for a year to make operating smoother - it is only valid for a few months at a time? Plus North East St Andrew is beset by the problems faced by everyone else in the island, including: high levels of unemployment, an inefficient energy sector and an inadequate water supply system.
"We have a stock exchange with untapped potential yet we have not scratched the surface in how to get ourselves out of a negative economic situation. We have the many financial instruments but no financial markets for mortgages. Banks should have the opportunity to and flexibility to sell mortgages to other financial players in order to generate more revenue that could help others to also become home owners," Williams explained.
For the first-time politician, the JLP is a party that advocates nation-building and growth; the facts show that since independence they have grown the economy the best.
"I could not be like everyone else who sits around and complain.
"I had to put my money where my mouth was and get involved. Women comprise more than 51 per cent of our population; we have different perspectives on issues so we have to get involved to ensure that our views are equally represented," Williams said.
Campaign finance challenge
With the matter of campaign finance reform in focus, Williams is among the new politicians who is feeling the effects of the high costs associated with the process. Admitting that it is expensive, she noted that politicians have to spend to get their names in the public sphere. In a media-driven environment, people want to hear about them and see them but she finds it a lot more rewarding to go into the homes and communities where she can meet, listen to and talk to the people, hear their pains and share their vision.
"I do not go to the people assuming that I knew what is good for them, I don't lecture, I don't buy the misconceptions about folks who live in inner-city communities, I approach them with a blank slate, let them talk about their issues and we arrive at solutions that can work," Williams said.
She said that as someone who is originally from rural Jamaica, she understands the culture nine-night, set-up, grave digging and other rituals that accompany the death of a constituent and she does not mind attending or giving a gift.
"I understand their needs in an economy that is not generating what it should for them, so if I can help them I will while I seek out jobs for them where they exist."
So looking beyond February 25, Williams said having been in the process long before elections was a even a thought, if she were elected, she would have staff and infrastructure in place and a website where all constituency events will be logged and a database that now allows her to track things and be easily reached. Requests will be logged as they come in and addressed as resources allow.
To the uncommitted, Williams says whichever government is in place affects the quality of everyone's lives, so do not think that you can live your life separate and apart from the election process....get out and vote. "You don't have to love everything about the JLP to vote for us, just give us a chance to make your life better."