Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Hot race in St Andrew South - battle royale looms as race to replace Davies heats up

Published:Tuesday | May 24, 2016 | 5:01 AMErica Virtue
Colin Campbell (left) places a kiss on the cheeks of PNP president Portia Simpson Miller who he has long backed.
Mark Golding (left) enjoys a hug from PNP President Portia Simpson Miller.
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It started with a possible five contenders, after Dr Omar Davies, the beloved St Andrew South Member of Parliament indicated that he would not seek re-election.

Then there were whispers that everyone would back out to leave the way clear for Mark Golding, the party's former treasurer and one of the People's National Party (PNP) members who received national acclaim for their work in the Cabinet when the party formed the Government between 2011 and 2016.

But know that they have been put under starter's orders Collin Campbell, a former PNP general secretary has indicated that he will not been leaving Golding to enjoy a coronation in what is a PNP safe seat.

With three months to go before the delegates in St. Andrew South decide who will replace Davies, signs of a major rumble in the jungle are showing.

Campbell wants the seat, but Golding, who has served on the constituency's executive committee for some time, has more than a leg up.

Last week Campbell expressed confidence that he will be given the nod to replace Davies despite indications that some see Golding as the heir apparent.

According to Campbell, he will shortly launch his campaign in his quest to become chairman of the constituency executive, which is the first step in his bid to be the next MP.

The election for that post will be held in August, a month before the PNP's scheduled annual conference.

Heavyweights set to clash

The three other persons who expressed an interest in the seat now appear to be backing out to allow the two heavyweights to rumble.

"I have written to the general secretary of the PNP to inform him of my interest and to say that I will be working politically in the constituency. And I will be launching my campaign on May 26 to build the constituency organisation and to be the chairman to make the constituency the most powerful in the PNP," Campbell told The Gleaner.

Campbell, the former Member of Parliament for St Andrew Eastern, last contested the 2011 general elections, and was defeated by the Jamaica Labour Party's Pearnel Charles in Clarendon North Central.

After stepping away from representational politics after that defeat, he served for just under three years as the managing director of the Jamaica Urban Transit Company, and now aims to return to the political arena.

"After the last general elections I opted to serve not on the political side but more on the managerial side. But I did not give up my love nor my desire to continue serving the people at the representational level. So I always call myself as being available when the opportunity comes in an area where I could be of service to the people," said Campbell.

He told our news team that Davies had indicated that he would not have faced the polls in the February 25 general elections, but changed his mind at the last-minute and successfully contested the polls.

With serious health issues Davies, who is in his sixth term as MP, has since indicated that he plans to leave the arena and Campbell said some constituents and other party officials approached him and asked him to consider the possibility of replacing the veteran MP.

"What has opened now is the chairmanship of the constituency executive. Comrade Davies also indicated that he would be shedding his responsibilities as it relate to the (Arnett Gardens) football club and he asked me to think about taking over as chairman of the football club.

"At that point I told I told him I would be interested in both the football programme and chairman of the constituency. So I will be offering myself for both positions," Campbell declared.

"I know Comrade Mark Golding has also indicated an interest, and so I am now aware that both myself and Comrade Golding are contenders. I have heard other names, but as far as I am aware the two of us are contenders," added Campbell as he praised Davies for his years of service to the constituency.

Unifying forces

Campbell argued that Davies' political leadership, and the Arnett Gardens Football Club have proved to be unifying forces in the area with football creating the peace bridge to communities such as Tivoli Gardens which was bitterly divided by politics for decades.

He said if elected he plans to build on Davies' record, and further develop and expand the constituency's significant cultural history.