Gareth Davis, Gleaner Writer
BUFF BAY, Portland:
THE PEOPLE'S National Party (PNP) candidate for Western Portland, Rohan Quest, said his Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) opponent Daryl Vaz is in for the shock of his life come Thursday night.
In a meeting with constituents in Buff Bay last Thursday, Quest unveiled what he said was his own personal manifesto, adding that "the days of talk, talk, talk and no action" in Western Portland were almost over.
"There needs to be a comprehensive plan for this constituency. West Portland is where my roots are and without a plan to point the way forward, we will fail. This is the road map towards change, success and development for this constituency," Quest said.
He added: "When I assume the role of Member of Parliament (MP), a number of programmes will be vigorously pursued and implemented, so as to reduce the unemployment rate, and to achieve real economic growth."
Quest, who admittedly broke down in tears on Nomination Day after seeing the massive turnout of PNP supporters, said he was not fazed by the high-profile stature of his opponent, and would be the winner once the votes are counted.
"Among the initiatives to be undertaken once I am elected will be the creation of a policy framework for sustainable growth in agriculture," Quest noted.
"We should be able to supply the hotels with local produce instead of having them rely on imports. Our Blue Mountain coffee is the best in the world, there is no reason we should not be capitalising on that. There are enough natural resources in Western Portland to put people to work."
The PNP caretaker added that he would also ensure that the Buff Bay Health Clinic is reopened and eventually upgraded to a Type C hospital. He also noted that he would be twinning tourism with agriculture, saying both sectors were critical to the revival of Portland as a premiere destination.
In an apparent swipe at his opponent, Quest said it was disrespectful for anybody running for office to suggest "he has the constituency all sewn up and under lock and key".
"I hear some of them bragging that they don't have to campaign as the votes are already guaranteed," Quest said.
He continued: "One thing I have learned as a boy growing up, and that is: not to take people for granted. Comments like those are disrespectful to the voters of Western Portland - JLP or PNP."
Broke pnp hold
Vaz, in 2007, broke the PNP's string of four consecutive electoral victories, beating Abe Dabdoub by nearly 1,000 votes. Two years later, Vaz was forced into a by-election, following a dual-citizenship dispute, which he won by defeating the PNP's Kenneth Rowe.
Vaz has said in recent times that his performance as MP has afforded him the luxury of not having to extend himself on the campaign trail.
Quest, however, believes that Vaz's performance over the last four years has "left much to be desired", adding that "maybe when he is the caretaker as opposed to being the MP, he will take the time to do some meaningful work on the ground."
"It is my opinion that any form of real future development will have to come through careful and constructive planning, which has to involve community residents, who are the real stakeholders," Quest added.