Manchester South welcomes JLP after decades as a PNP stronghold
Windsor Forest, Manchester:
After approximately 27 years under Peoples’ National Party (PNP) leadership, residents in and around the community of Windsor Forest say they are now looking forward to progress, following the overwhelming victory of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) candidate, Robert Chin.
“Under the PNP leadership, we were lacking everything – roads, jobs, infrastructure, water; everything. We have a community centre in Farm that is closed, the one on Ellen Street has not been opened officially. We have one in Hermitage that is closed down, and a library in Lancaster that is closing down, all this under [the] PNP,” said Stefanie Latchman, president of the citizens’ association.
She said the people have been longing for a change and made that known by exercising their right to vote for their preferred leader.
“We are looking forward to continue the building of our health centre which is critical. We also want a civic and homework centre to train young minds, and much better road conditions. There is potential in our community, there is so much in South [Manchester] to be developed, and we are looking forward to working with Robert Chin to make it a reality,” Latchman added.
The seat was held by Micheal Peart from 1993-2016 and then by Michael Stewart. It was considered a safe PNP seat. The party, up to the day of election, was confident of retaining power in the constituency.
However, not only did Stewart lose the seat by 1,794 votes, he lost to a man who was only positioned as candidate three weeks prior to election day.
EXPECTING A BIGGER WIN
Chin told the media that he was expecting to win by a bigger margin despite his late entry, but is happy that the efforts of his team have paid off.
“We had an organisation in place, and the team really delivered. It would appear to be a late entry[ however, the results were very favourable, so I would say it is just in time.”
The former candidate for Kingston Central said the PNP did not expect a JLP candidate in Manchester South and, therefore, was caught “flat-footed “.
But Stewart said his campaigning efforts were seemingly well received by the residents, who appeared to have entered the polls with uncertainty.
“People are so fickle, you don’t know what they are doing behind the screen; and then there are the allegations that a lot of vote buying was happening. Based on what we were seeing, the support was tremendous, but the people have spoken and I have accepted,” Stewart said.
He revealed that he has plans to continue the work of development, offer more opportunities for the young people, and continue negotiations with the bauxite companies to restore the lands that have been mined.
As the plans for his move forward remain unresolved, Stewart said he is satisfied with the work he has done in the constituency to rehabilitate roads, provide grants for tertiary students, build on agriculture, and support residents in all aspects.
He said he is grateful to the constituents for electing him in the past to lead them.
Chin, who campaigned on better roads, water and economic prosperity, said he is looking to agro-processing as part of his initial steps to drive the farming constituency.