PNP Region 5 revs engine for local gov’t polls
People’s National Party (PNP) President Mark Golding said the party is in full preparation mode for the upcoming local government elections, which are expected by February 2022.
Golding, who is also opposition leader, presented the party’s full slate of prospects who are expected to contest the 30 municipal divisions split equally between Manchester and St Elizabeth, which comprise the party’s Region Five.
“We have a lot of new energy coming in, and the energy is palpable and we are looking forward to doing well in this region,” said Golding as he emerged from Saturday’s Region Five executive council meeting at Munro College in St Elizabeth.
Standing side by side with former Manchester Central Member of Parliament Peter Bunting, Golding addressed the issue of disunity which has dogged the party since Bunting unsuccessfully challenged then PNP President Dr Peter Phillips in an internal leadership race in 2019.
In the wake of shellacking from the Andrew Holness-led Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in the 2020 general election, Golding succeeded a wounded Phillips to take the reins of the party. However, his emergence has been viewed as a proxy for Bunting, causing political turmoil and deepening division, including a mass resignation of much of its leadership.
“Anybody who want to be on the train is welcome, and I think people are getting on board. I think we are getting past that stage of the developments of last year,” he told The Gleaner.
“We are moving forward, and I think we will be powerful together,” the PNP leader assured.
Golding argued that Saturday’s event was a fine-tuning of the party’s machinery as it prepares to hit the road in its bid to control the majority of the municipal councils islandwide whenever the local government elections are called.
In the 2016 local government polls, the party won five of the 14 municipal corporations islandwide, including the municipality of Portmore, whose mayorship is the only one determined by direct voting.
Golding said that the party is aiming to retain all the corporations it has and capture a majority of the remaining nine in the control of the ruling JLP. He said the party has some excellent candidates, including some sitting councillors who will be seeking re-election.
Meanwhile, newly elected chairman for Region Five Kern Spencer said that he hopes that the bloc he represents will be the catalyst of political change. Region Five comprises eight constituencies.
“The important takeaway from the gathering is that we witnessed a united region. It is now re-energised,” said Spencer, adding that the regional campaign committee has been activated.