Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
RUNAWAY BAY, St Ann:
PEOPLE'S NATIONAL Party (PNP) President Portia Simpson Miller used the party's National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting on Sunday in Runaway Bay, St Ann, to urge party leaders not to alienate their constituents.
The NEC meeting, held to elect a chairman and deputy chairman, along with executive members, saw Robert Pickersgill being returned as chairman for the 20th consecutive year, as two new members were elected to the executive.
The party's general secretary Peter Bunting said in a press briefing following the closed-door NEC meeting that Simpson Miller made it clear how elected representatives are to treat constituents.
"Some of the themes coming out of both the discussions from the NEC floor, as well as the presentation by the party leader, spoke to the importance of ministers, members of parliament (MPs), mayors, councillors - all party leadership - maintaining contact with the public on the ground, not just party members, but citizens generally," Bunting said.
He continued: "We acknowledged that it was a time of significant hardship, in the sense that the government's fiscal programme is very tight, and many of the issues that citizens have expectations of being addressed, Comrades have expectations of being addressed, in short order, can't be dealt with, certainly not in the first nine months or even within the first year.
"But notwithstanding that, it was felt that it was important that all representatives, all leaders maintain contact with the citizens in their constituencies and divisions to ensure that they understand the constraints, ensure that they are being heard, and ensure that they are being communicated to and dialogue held with them on a regular basis."
Meanwhile, Pickersgill was recognised by the party's executive for his service to the organisation and a small token of appreciation presented for his 20 years unbroken service as chairman.
In his response, Pickersgill said the PNP has been good to him, having afforded him many opportunities and taught him many lessons, the most important being personal sacrifice.
Two new members, Jolyan Silvera, MP for Western St Mary, and Dr Winston Green, MP for South East St Mary, were elected to replace John Junor who did not seek re-election and Denise Daley who is now a regional chair.