Tue | Feb 25, 2020

Fitz Jackson eyes increased margin of victory in South St Catherine

Published:Thursday | January 9, 2020 | 12:17 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Jackson: I am looking to increase my margin by at least 5,000, and that’s against whoever they have.
Fitz Jackson (centre) with supporters during the December 2011 general election.

Fitz Jackson, the five-term People’s National Party (PNP) member of parliament (MP) for South St Catherine, is harbouring no fear as the political chess game picks up the pace ahead of the next general election, constitutionally due in 2021 but widely anticipated to be called this year.

Jackson, who defeated little-known Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) candidate Welton Shettlewood by a margin of 2,496 votes in 2016, is eyeing an increased margin this time around and is sounding a warning to all challengers of his intent to win “handily” once again.

In that contest, Shettlewood mustered 6,252 votes to Jackson’s 8,758.

The Andrew Holness-led JLP has not yet announced a prospective candidate for the seat.

The experienced Jackson told The Gleaner he was not concerned about suggestions making the rounds that the JLP is making inroads in the constituency.

“I am absolutely not worried about that. I have never taken any election for granted and, notwithstanding the margin I won by the last time around, I am prepared for any challenge that may come, even if the prime minister himself is the candidate,” a confident Jackson said.

“I am looking to increase my margin by at least 5,000, and that’s against whoever they have. I don’t care, that person will be defeated. I don’t run against an opponent, I run against the prospect of losing.”

His confidence, he said, is buttressed by the work he has put in and from the feedback he has received from his constituents which indicates, according to him, that the ruling JLP would have little chance of erasing his majority.

He said he has learned that elections are never won on promises, but on effective messaging and great groundwork – areas he believes he has improved on in each vote cycle.

“What I can tell you is that the people all over Portmore are disappointed. They believe that the prime minister himself and the JLP are dishonest, and they are untrustworthy, because many of the people had expected to be beneficiaries of Holness’ $1.5-million promise and it never happened for the vast majority,” he said.

Jackson, who had his first taste of electoral victory in 1997, went on to retain the seat for the PNP in subsequent general elections. In 2007 he defeated the JLP’s Errol Williamson by a margin of 1,420.

He would again win the seat in 2011, when he tallied 8,856 to turn back challenger Keith Hinds of the JLP, who polled 5,582.

Jackson, a senior party member and the opposition spokesman on national security, believes the PNP is capable of picking off the St Catherine East Central constituency, now being represented by the JLP’s Alando Terrelonge.

He said further that he was convinced his under-pressure colleague, MP Colin Fagan (St Catherine South Eastern), will hold firm and retain his seat.

A Gleaner source said Fagan’s constituency is firmly on the JLP’s radar.

“We in the PNP are pretty confident of winning back the East Central St Catherine seat and we feel equally confident of retaining my seat, and will also keep the seat that my comrade, Colin Fagan holds,” Jackson argued.

Fagan (7,478 votes) retained his St Catherine South Eastern seat for the PNP in the last election, defeating the JLP’s Keith Blake who tallied 7,083 votes for a slim but efficient margin of 395.

“I think, certainly, in the case of South St Catherine, we have been successful by being responsive to the critical things that affect the people and my own contribution to their well-being through the Parliament, where I have been bullish on their behalf,” Jackson said.