Gareth Davis Sr, Gleaner Writer
Port Antonio, Portland:
The race to fill the vacant post of Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) caretaker for East Portland, left by businessman Patrick Lee, has gained traction with former Mayor Floyd Patterson expressing an interest.
Patterson, who seven years ago stepped aside to make way for Daryl Vaz to contest the West Portland seat, revealed during a parish council meeting last Thursday that he has been approached by many to fill the vacant JLP spot in East Portland. The constituency is currently being represented in Parliament by the People's National Party's Dr Lynvale Bloomfield.
"I have political ambitions," commented Patterson. "Yes, I have been approached by many persons, including the electorate, business operators, JLP party members, and persons from the diaspora. There was a time when I was harbouring thoughts of becoming prime minister, but that has gone through the window. It is the people who speak, and when I first entered politics I applied as caretaker, but I knew my space and timing so I stepped back. I have already held discussions with my family and have got their support."
Since Lee's resignation, due to ill health, minority leader in the Portland Parish Council, Derron Wood, has unofficially claimed that post and has been reportedly carrying out such functions, despite not being ratified by the party.
With the unexpected disclosure by Patterson, who is a former commander in the Jamaica Defence Force, there have been mixed reactions from party supporters who have been clamouring for a suitable replacement for the businessman.
"Patterson is a man of integrity," commented Michael McLean, a renowned JLP supporter. "What the JLP needs is an individual of good character, who is transparent and can command the respect of supporters. I will not hesitate to support the army man if he is selected."
On the other hand, Paulette Moore, another JLP supporter, chimed in that Wood has been around for a long time and deserves a chance to prove himself.
"He is a true and genuine politician," she said.
Moore added: "Through thick and thin (Wood) has been with the party, and he is a loyalist who knows how to win an election."
In the meantime, Patterson has revealed that there are procedures to be followed, including speaking to the party headquarters, penning the necessary letters, and getting additional support from the people of East Portland.
Continuing, Patterson added: "Once all of that is completed and I am able to get the necessary financial support, then I will go ahead. Anything that I can do to lift up this parish, I will do it. And I am willing to do it without fear or favour."