Councillor snubbed as JLP finds new man in Red Hills
THE JAMAICA Labour Party (JLP) has replaced under-pressure councillor for the Red Hills division Keith McCook as its candidate for the local government election following the result of an internal poll that showed significantly low support for the...
THE JAMAICA Labour Party (JLP) has replaced under-pressure councillor for the Red Hills division Keith McCook as its candidate for the local government election following the result of an internal poll that showed significantly low support for the incumbent.
McCook, who has represented the JLP since 2012, has been replaced and is not among the nine councillors or councillor candidates approved by the governing party in its Area Council Two, chairman Everald Warmington has disclosed.
New candidates were also selected for the Point Hill and Ginger Ridge divisions which, along with the Red Hills and Bellevue divisions, make up the St Catherine West Central constituency that is represented by Dr Christopher Tufton in Parliament.
Area Council Two comprises St Catherine, St Mary, Portland, and St Thomas.
McCook, according to the poll result, enjoys only 25 per cent support in the division.
Yesterday, The Gleaner contacted the councillor but he declined to comment on the matter, insisting that he has not been formally notified of any decision by the party.
A year ago, The Gleaner reported that a handful of disgruntled JLP supporters in the division protested in a call for his removal.
The protesters claimed that McCook, who is in his third term, had not done anything tangible to merit any further support from them.
In 2012, he defeated the People’s National Party’s (PNP) Donovan Nathan by 248 votes, polling 1,310 to his opponent’s 1,062.
Four years later in 2016, McCook again defeated Nathan, securing 1,086 votes to his 723.
The local government election,which was constitutionally due in 2020, was postponed following an amendment to the Representation of the People Act.
By law, it is due by February 2023, but could be held before that time.
McCook is to be replaced by Michael Archer, CEO of Archer’s Funeral Home in St Catherine.
Archer confirmed yesterday that he has been selected as the JLP’s candidate but declined to go into details on the matter.
Gleaner sources said McCook went to an Area Council meeting two Sundays ago and was at that time informed that he was no longer the candidate.
The Gleaner was told that his name was not on the list of candidates slated to represent the JLP from that council.
But Warmington yesterday denied that McCook was not formally notified of the change and revealed that the councillor was called to a meeting at his Old Harbour office and told about the decision.
Warmington said that there are several methods used to determine the selection or replacement of a candidate.
He said that the party’s operational council reviews constituencies and divisions over time and based on a candidate’s performance it is determined whether he or she will be allowed to contest the election on the party’s ticket.
“His performance was below standard. We did a poll in that division and Mr McCook enjoyed the support of only 25 per cent of JLP support,” Warmington told The Gleaner.
“It was discussed in the party. As Area Council chairman, I was told to speak to Mr McCook. I gave him a copy of the poll and said, ‘you go look at it and then you come back’. He went, looked at it and then he came back,” he added.
Warmington said a decision was not taken at that time but that McCook was later called to a meeting at his office and he advised him that he would not be returning as the party’s candidate based on his performance and poll result.
“I am in charge of the party in Area Council Two and I informed him of the decision taken by the party. It was that basis on which Area Council Two interviewed Mr Archer,” he said.
“We couldn’t allow a person to run enjoying only 25 per cent of JLP support. We would be fools if we lost the division because of his performance there,” said Warmington.