Sun | Aug 9, 2020

Central Manchester underserved by Bunting – Rhoda Crawford

Published:Monday | July 6, 2020 | 12:22 AMTamara Bailey/ Gleaner Writer
Rhoda Crawford on the campaign trail in Central Manchester communities.
Rhoda Crawford on the campaign trail in Central Manchester communities.

With a general election pending, Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) caretaker for Central Manchester Rhoda Crawford is seeking to take over the reins in a constituency where she claims the people have been neglected.

The 31-year-old educator says she not only plans to challenge the sitting People’s National Party (PNP) Member of Parliament Peter Bunting, is confident that she will win – a task several of her colleagues were not able to do.

“I will deliver victory, and the reason for this confidence is that I am a daughter of the soil. I represent hope for the people. They believe in me and they want a representative that will not only bring solutions to the issues and to make the system work, but someone who is on the ground with them,” said Crawford, who is former vice-president and deputy general secretary of G2K,

In the 2011 election, JLP candidate Danville Walker lost by a narrow margin – he got 10,067 votes, 539 less than Bunting, the four-term MP.

JLP lost again in 2016, with St Aubyn Bartlett managing to get only 46.87 per cent (8,300) of the votes – he lost by a margin of 1,107 votes.

Crawford, who said she grew up in the Grey Ground community in a one-bedroom zinc-and-board house with 17 occupants, completed her primary and secondary education in the parish and said she understands the needs of the people, as they were once her needs.

“By going back to the constituency, I realised that some of these same people who helped to raise me are in the same position. There is not much improvement in their lives and in the community, so I feel a personal obligation to give back to them,” Crawford said.

AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT

She said the Central Manchester constituents are underserved in areas of water accessibility, asphalted roadways, academic and skills training qualification for young people, Internet connectivity, and job opportunities.

“… Information has not been readily forthcoming and shared by the political representative there from the PNP, who would have had knowledge of the organisations and programmes. Many young people aren’t even aware of the many skills training and literacy training intervention, and those are some things I am planning to champion.”

She added “Over the past several months and weeks, I have had to be trucking water to communities. I went into four of the communities that I lived, and some people who used to help my family get water from them in buckets, still do not have piped water…”

Crawford said that Bunting speaks flamboyantly in the House yet there is little action to reflect an interest in the well-being of his constituents.

“…The member of parliament, my political opponent, Peter Bunting, is one of those members of parliament who is so vocal in Parliament and for his constituency to be so underserved,” Crawford said.

She said that in assessing her numbers, the JLP camp is not outnumbered in Central Manchester – it just a matter of reorganising efforts and properly mobilising resources.

“We intend to plug any holes in order to get our supporters out to vote … . Based on what is happening in the space, the actions of both political parties, election is in the air and may happen very soon … It doesn’t matter if the election is tomorrow or next year, for me it is more than politics, it is servant leadership and lifting the political discourse rather than demoralising our opponents.”