Thu | May 23, 2019

Ferguson claims East St Thomas, still strong PNP seat

Published:Monday | January 9, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Dr Patrece Charles-Freeman
Dr Fenton Ferguson

Daraine Luton and Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writers

DOCTOR FENTON Ferguson had boldly declared that he would inflict an embarrassing beating on Dr Patrece Charles-Freeman in Eastern St Thomas.

"Her father took the honey and she has now come to take the comb," Ferguson told People's National Party supporters in Bath in the parish last November.

"We are ensuring that what we did to her father we will improve on it, because she is a pretty lady. We want not just 1,554, but we want 2,000 votes as a margin."

The elections are now over and Ferguson failed to get even a quarter of the margin he had hoped for. Although he retained his seat, which he first won in 1993, his margin came down from 938 in 2007 to 473. He polled 8018 votes to Charles-Freeman's 7,545.

Ferguson had defeated Pearnel Charles, the father of Charles-Freeman, in 1993, ending the JLP's 45-year dominance in the constituency.

Last week, the PNP vice-president and five-time elected parliamentarian claimed that his seat was targeted by the JLP with financial and other resources, yet he prevailed.

"In this last election, I was up against every known serious member of the Jamaica Labour Party. Bruce Golding, came out, not to a function or a meeting but did house to house; Bobby Montague, while digging in my constituency, was losing his," Ferguson said.

"During this campaign I only had myself and my electoral team, and I managed to capture over 8,000 votes," he said.

"What has happened in the case of my opponent is that her father was able to re-energise some of the old labourites who haven't voted in a while, and so they were able to pick up an extra thousand votes, while I got over 500 hundred," he said.

Factors for losing

In the meantime, Charles-Freeman said there were some factors that prevented her from winning.

"It was a short time that I had to campaign, just a little less than two months, but the groundwork is what helped to bring the loss to such a close margin," she said.

"There are still some houses that I didn't get the chance to visit, but those communities that I went to, I went to every house, introduced myself and my plan. I tried to do a thorough visit to the community just to look at some of the challenges and some of the different areas that needs to be addressed. overall, I think my support system was good," she said.

Charles-Freeman says she is willing to work with Ferguson if he is willing to include everyone in his plan.

"I am not hard and fast, and I'm willing to work with the present MP if he is willing to incorporate everyone in his plan," she said.

"There are many challenges. I will be advocating for education so that schools will have basic tools and equipment to work with, specifically within early childhood. There are areas of job creation that needs to be addressed, areas of youth and culture, I realised that there are so many young people with talent and skill but they just haven't had the platform to display such talent. There are still communities with severe water problems and some persons who still don't have any light," she declared.

Plans to run again

Ferguson, meanwhile, does not appear to be in the departure lounge, signaling that he intends to run in the next general election.

"Every five-star general would want to become a six-star general," he said.

"A lesser person than myself would have lost this election and I have no doubt in my confidence going forward, and I have no doubt in the support base of the People's National Party. St Thomas Eastern is a firm PNP constituency."

Ferguson also said he would be following through on a call he had made for an investigation into whether state resources were used by the JLP to oust him as MP.

"I think there was a great misuse and abuse by the political directorate in that ministry ... They turned the labour and social security office in St Thomas into a political football," he charged.