Hanover candidates call for divisional debates
With the first of two local government debates set for tomorrow in Kingston, councillor/candidates in Hanover say debates should also be mandated at the divisional level to enable voters to make informed decisions on election day, come November 28.
A total of 23 candidates were nominated in the parish on Friday, including eight independents, the highest number in the history of the parish.
For independent candidate in the Cauldwell Division Dahlia Spence, divisional debates are necessary, especially due to the large number of persons vying for seats in the parish.
"This is where you should enable the voters to hear: 'what are your plans for us at the local level? If we send you to council, what will you be doing?' We would like at the local level for us as candidates to be able to let the voters hear what we plan on doing," Spence, a schoolteacher and former PNP constituency secretary, said.
The PNP candidate for the Sandy Bay Division, Andria Dehaney-Dinham, said she, too, was in support of participating in a local debate.
"Considering the number of candidates, it would be good for the people to have an understanding of what each candidate is planning on doing for the division in terms of programmes they are planning to put in place and what they are planning to do for the division," Dehaney-Dinham, who is a school principal, said.
A LEVEL OF TRANSPARENCY
Another independent candidate, quantity surveyor Paul Trench, of the Riverside Division, said he had been calling for debates in the parish at the divisional and constituency levels for many years. Trench, who had contested the local government elections on a PNP ticket twice in the past, said in many cases, candidates are voted in on a party ticket without possessing the requisite skill set and the capacity to lead.
"I believe that persons should defend their position; tell the people what are their plans. why are they running? Because many times, the people are shafted because people just running on a party ticket and they don't have any plans for the division, but because there is a block of votes that is already there, whether you come with plan, yes or no, people are going to vote for you because you are representing a party, and I think the time has come for now for us to vote on issues and not along party lines," Trench said.
His JLP counterpart, farmer Donald Campbell, also contended that debates should be a factor in the voter decision-making process.
"The people in the communities need to know what the plans are that the candidates have for the communities; farmers need to know how their roads will be fixed; the issues of street lighting, garbage collection, and water. They need to know what is happening in their communities and who they can rely on, timelines. people want to know these kinds of things," Campbell, a first-time candidate, said.
Another candidate, former councillor of the Lucea Division Easton Edwards, said a pre-election debate would aid in ensuring transparency.
"People need to know why it is that you want to serve, your objectives. Do you have a five-year plan? What is it now that you are running? Are you a part of any social group? Are you contributing to the social fibre of the community? Were you supporting the local businesses? Is it that you are coming to enrich yourself? I think that these questions need to be thrown at people and people defend why they are there. For those who have served before, people need to know what you have done and what it is that you are coming back to do. We need this level of transparency, and a debate will help to bring that out," Edwards said.