Garwin Davis, Sunday Gleaner Writer
The Rev. Stanley Redwood - Contributed
Even while declaring that he is his own man, the People's National Party (PNP) candidate for St. Elizabeth South West, the Reverend Stanley Redwood, has no intention of distancing himself from party colleague Donald Buchanan, saying the four-term Member of Parliament will be leaving behind a legacy of solid achievements.
According to Mr. Redwood, the outgoing Buchanan, despite the financial constraints, has done a very good job in terms of positioning the constituency for bigger and better things, and that he (Redwood) will not be afraid to speak about them on the campaign trail.
"Mr. Buchanan has his own style ... nobody can imitate him," Mr. Redwood noted. "Clearly, I will be bringing my own personality to the table, but that doesn't mean I will try to disassociate myself from the Buchanan legacy. There is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, everywhere you look there is a project in place."
Pressed on what were some of Mr. Buchanan's achievements, Mr. Redwood did not hesitate. "He has done a good job in handling the water situation. Before he became the MP there was only one well system in the area. Today there are about four or five. He has also done a very good job in terms of electricity, school projects and tourism expansion."
He continued: "We have had three major hurricanes which have affected the roads. We have also had problems with the drought and which badly affected our farmers. But let us face it, today there are things in place that we can build on. I am not coming here to make all kind of promises or to try and deceive anybody. Some of the infrastructure is already in place and the voters will know the difference between the continuing of a legacy as opposed to listening to what could well be empty promises."
Based on the findings of a March 10, 2007 Bill Johnson poll, the Rev. Redwood does have some hurdles he will have to overcome if he seriously hopes to slow down the Chris Tufton express. Twenty-nine per cent of those polled said they have an unfavourable opinion of him (Redwood) as opposed to the 21 per cent who have a favourable view.
The same poll showed that 62 per cent have a favourable view of Tufton as opposed to 20 per cent who said they did not; 34 per cent admitted to have seen or met Redwood over the last six months or so, while 76 per cent said the same thing about Tufton.
But probably the biggest challenge facing the PNP candidate is whether he might want to rethink his decision t himself too closely to the Buchanan legacy; 59 per cent of the respondents have an unfavourable view of the outgoing MP as opposed to 26 per cent who said they do not.
The Rev. Redwood is no stranger to politics, having lost the constituency of North West St. Elizabeth to the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) J.C. Hutchinson in 2002. Following the election, he became the centre of a national debate after he wrote a letter to then Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, seeking his assistance in offsetting a $700,000 debt which the constituency executive had incurred after the October 16, 2002 General Election.
Ministering to the poor
A graduate of the University of the West Indies and the United Theological College of the West Indies, the Rev. Redwood, a St. Elizabeth man by birth, has been ministering to the poor and needy for decades. He attended Whitehall Primary, Middle Quarters All-Age, and Munro College in the parish. He grew up in Middle Quarters, and is one of four children. He holds a diploma in ministerial studies, as well as a bachelor's and a master's degree. Upon graduation from the United Theological College, he was assigned to the Fairfield circuit of churches in Manchester. Later he was a pioneer in the revitalisation of the Lititz, Goshen and Ballard's Valley churches. He is also the founder of the New Holland Church in the parish and is currently the regional dean for the International Caribbean University.
"I am not a PNP man by birth, but through interaction and experience. In my view this is the party that offers the best hope for the poor; the party whose members for the most part have come through the ranks of the poorer class and understand the struggles and the suffering," he said. "Almost all the opportunities I have had have come through my association with the party. It is also my view that under this present leadership, the country has a real chance to maximise its full potential and I am proud to be a part of this team."