PNP councillors hoping to retain majority in Manchester
Currently holding eight of the 15 divisional seats across Manchester, the People’s National Party (PNP) councillors are banking on the electorate to prevent a repeat of the general election, where several PNP stronghold areas became green.
For decades, constituencies such as Manchester Southern was a known PNP stronghold, until newcomer from the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), Robert Chin, overthrew one-term representative Michael Stewart – who succeeded five-term representative Michael Peart.
However, councillor candidate for the Alligator Pond division in the constituency, Omar Robinson, said he is confident that the local government seat will continue to maintain PNP representation, and that last year’s general election results will not affect the divisions.
The newcomer, who is seeking to take over the reins from Darlton Brown – who is hanging up his boots after four terms, said his campaign focuses on making representation attractive.
“It is a new day for people in Manchester South because not many persons would remember the constituency having a JLP MP... but four-term comrade Anthony Bryce in Newport division and Darlton Brown were returned because of performance ... .”
He added: “People will not vote based on who is in power but based on those who they think will give them the best representation, and that is what I am campaigning on.”
Of the four divisions in Manchester South: Newport, Alligator Pond, Porus, and Grove Town – the PNP rules two divisions.
Newport and Alligator Pond have the first and third highest number of electors totalling 17,136, according to statistics from the Electoral Commission of Jamaica’ s website (ECJ).
HOPING FOR BETTER TURNOUT
But even with the trend of low voter turnout for local government elections, Robinson said he is hoping that more than half of the electors will turn out this election, as opposed to previous years.
“I have done a lot of community work and I am no stranger to the division. Now is the time for me to represent the people on a holistic level. I am feeling a lot of love on the ground and I continue with visibility, reconnecting with the people and restructuring,” said the educator.
Much like the South, Manchester Central experienced a shocking takeover, after three-term MP Peter Bunting failed to secure the win over JLP newcomer Rhoda Crawford.
The PNP, however, has managed to hold three of the four divisional seats – with the first, second and fourth highest number of electors.
Councillor for the Bellefield division, Mario Mitchell, said he is confident that he will be re-elected and his division will stand out among others.
“I am not perturbed by the results of the general election. In the last local government election I was the councillor coming in with a margin of 950 votes. My performance speaks for itself.”
With the prime minister relaxing COVID-19 restrictions, Mitchell said it could augur well for pre-election preparations. However, the prime minster said on Wednesday that local government elections will not be held this year, and certainly not until he is satisfied that the country is on the right trajectory for vaccination.
“It may all go well for a robust election but whatever it is, I still intend to lead from the pack for Manchester coming in with the biggest margin and the most convincing victory for the PNP.”
In the local government elections in 2016, ECJ statistics indicate that of the 1.8 million electors on the list, just over 555,000 ballots were cast, with JLP securing 51.8 per cent and PNP 46.4 per cent.
Breakdown of current
and sitting councillors
• Newport – Anthony Bryce PNP
• Porus – Claudia Morant-Baker JLP
• Grove Town – Iceval Brown JLP
• Alligator Pond – Darlton Brown PNP
• Knockpatrick – Cleon Francis JLP
• Royal Flat – Donovan Mitchell PNP
• Mandeville– Jones Oliphant PNP
• Bellefield – Mario Mitchell PNP
• Christiana – Desmond Harrison JLP
• Walderston – Leroy Mitchell JLP
• Craig Head – Omar Miller JLP
• Spur Tree – Erwin Facey PNP
• John’s Hall Division – Faith Sampson-Nickle JLP
• New Green – McArthur Collins PNP
• Mile Gully – Rohan Kennedy PNP
NB: The PNP up to July 2020 held all seats in the North West division prior to Councillor Faith Sampson crossing the floor.