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Election funds scarce for rookie MPs, caretakers

Published:Thursday | September 3, 2015 | 12:00 AMGary Spaulding
Floyd Green
Delano Seiveright
Dayton Campbell

Aspirants on both sides of the political divide say they are facing stiff challenges in accessing millions of dollars required to run an effective election campaign, and are forced to become creative to keep their hopes alive.

"It's really hard for a young candidate, especially one who is a young professional, trying to earn a decent standard of living, said newcomer to representational politics, Floyd Green.

First-term Member of Parliament (MP) Dr Dayton Campbell and another newcomer to representational politics, Delano Seiveright, echoed Green's sentiments.

For Seiveright, who is attempting to unseat the parliamentary veteran Dr Fenton Ferguson in Eastern St Thomas, running a campaign is a very expensive operation.

Seiveright told The Gleaner that he had been forced to spend in excess of $1.6 million over the summer alone.

This, he said, included a tour by the leader of his party, Andrew Holness, and trucking water to residents.

"I find myself spending between $250 and $500 thousand monthly," Seiveright asserted.

The young political aspirants told The Gleaner that they have been forced to solicit support from smaller donors instead of traditionally big ones.

Seiveright said he has had to be working overtime to stay afloat and had been rescued by persons who have opted to support him financially in his political activities to secure the Eastern St Thomas seat for the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

"I have some fairly reliable donors who have sought to underwrite most of the costs associated with the campaign, but despite that, I still have to bear quite a bit of the expenses personally, on a monthly basis.

Campbell will be running on the ticket of the People's National Party, while Green, the JLP.

A first-time MP for North West St Ann, Campbell said in order to finance what is a costly exercise, he has turned to friends who have been willing to assist. "I also try to engender a spirit of volunteerism," he said.

Added Campbell: "People have bought into our mission to take people from poverty to prosperity and are willing to assist in making it a reality for the majority."

He stressed that given the challenges being experienced by young political aspirants, there is a certain need for campaign financing.

"We have to create an environment where once a candidate has the people's interest at heart and has integrity, they should be able to offer themselves unimpeded by financial constraints. Money must not be allowed to get the deciding vote," he said.

He said the challenges notwithstanding, he has not felt the need to backtrack.

"Not at all, the mission of poverty to prosperity is too important to get distracted or deterred," said Campbell.

"If one way doesn't work, I seek to find another option; plus, I am well skilled at turning my hand to make fashion, in the words of my mother," he added.

Green told The Gleaner that just traversing the huge South Western St Elizabeth seat was expensive. "It's very difficult, just the general cost especially in a large, rural seat," said Green. "It's very hard to cope; it takes a lot of sacrifice and on your own personal financing."

He said the financial challenges are exacerbated by the general lack of interest in the public domain.