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I will be rewarded for the work I’ve done – Vaz

Published:Friday | August 21, 2020 | 12:09 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
Member of Parliament for Western Portland Daryl Vaz is surrounded by supporters who turned out on nomination day.
Member of Parliament for Western Portland Daryl Vaz is surrounded by supporters who turned out on nomination day.

The Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) Daryl Vaz has declared that he is not daunted by the challenge of Valerie Neita-Robertson, the latest contender for the Portland Western seat, as he gears up for the September 3 polls.

“Four of them have already come – four different candidates in four elections and four of them have left by night. I don’t expect any different in this election,” Vaz told The Gleaner during his fifth campaign stop on nomination day.

He was first elected to representational politics in 2007, breaking a four-term hold on the seat by the People’s National Party (PNP), and has held the Portland Western seat for three consecutive terms.

Just under 7,480 votes were cast in favour of the incumbent when he was challenged by the PNP’s Vernon Hemmings in 2016. Vaz won by a 1,541-vote margin.

In 2011, he defeated Rohan Quest by 829 votes, and in 2007, Abe Dabdoub by a 944-vote margin.

“I have been a member of parliament for 13 years. I’ve won three elections and one by-election. I have a track record of impeccable service to the constituency where everything can be seen with the naked eye in terms of the infrastructure upgrading, upliftment of the people and opportunities for the people of West Portland,” he detailed.

The March 2009 by-election against former Generation 2000 vice-president Kenneth Rowe saw Vaz retaining his seat by 2,294 votes.

His current opponent, Neita-Robertson, is no newcomer to representational politics, having served for several years as a PNP councillor for the Papine division in St Andrew, before leaving to concentrate on her career in law.

“She has not ingratiated herself with the people of Portland, and Portland is a very funny parish. It’s not a parish that you can just come in and expect for people to gravitate towards you – you have to earn their trust and respect, and I’m not sure she has been able to do that,” Vaz said, further ruling out the PNP candidate as a threat.

He told The Gleaner that he is expecting a low voter turnout because of the pandemic, but based on his observations on nomination day, the JLP base is energised.

The Government’s performance and Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ popularity, he said, will give him a “major uptick” in additional support and an increase in vote margin.

“I will be able to bring out maximum votes, and that I think is what will give me the increased majority in what I think will be a low turnout overall,” Vaz said.

“It will be a well-deserved victory because I’ll be rewarded for the work that I have done,” the incumbent said.