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St Ann face-off!

Published:Sunday | April 11, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

FORMER POLICE commiss-ioner Lucius Thomas will today go in search of another insignia but the mayor of St Ann's Bay, Ivan Anderson, is insisting that young people are not mindful to vote for a policeman as their leader.

Thomas and Anderson have been matching strides on the ground ahead of today's run-off for the right to represent North West St Ann as the People's National Party's (PNP) candidate in the next parliamentary election which is constitutionally due in 2012.

"The ordinary youngsters are not going to accept a policeman easier than a person like me. The fact that he was a police will work against him," Anderson a three-time councillor and sports administrator told The Sunday Gleaner.

Thomas, on the other hand, has refused to talk a tough political game. While admitting that he has political shortcomings, Thomas believes the job of police commissioner has prepared him well for a political office.

Cry of the people

"As commissioner, I often heard and listened to the people's cry. They want leadership, they want the politicians to listen to them and to deliver on their promises, not just to come around during elections. Even if they can't fulfil the promises, they must be honest and let the people know, keep them informed," Thomas said.

A total of 441 delegates are to vote in today's election. Lisa Hanna, the PNP's regional chairman for that section of the island, told The Sunday Gleaner that Anderson and Thomas are formidable candidates.

The PNP is seeking to wrestle the seat from the hands of Othniel Lawrence, who won it for the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) with 8,210 votes over the PNP's Dr Michael Wittingham (7,346) in the 2007 general election.

The last time the PNP won the seat was in 1997 when Arnold Bertram polled 8,232 votes to Ernest Smith's 6,632. Bertram was, however, sent packing in the 2002 general election by Verna Parchment who upstaged him by 202 votes.

Already, Anderson insists that he is in pole position to get the nod over Thomas. The St Ann's Bay mayor has argued that not only he is a stronger political figure who understands the people, but he is relishing the fact that Thomas is a former policeman.

"I don't see him as being a strong candidate. He is new in the area, so he has a lot of groundwork to cover. He has a status as a former police commissioner but people are not going after that. You have to have this kind of relationship, especially with the younger set of Comrades," Anderson said.

Meanwhile, the former top cop also told The Sunday Gleaner that he was pulled into politics by his undying passion to uplift the lives of working class and poor Jamaicans.

"I want to give back to the community from which I have benefited not only me, but my siblings. I was born a humble man, and in tend to serve the people with great humility," the former top cop said.

He told The Sunday Gleaner that based on the work he has done in the constituency thus far, he is confident of victory today.

"Based on the feedback I am getting on the ground, I am very confident but I am mindful that I am going up against a seasoned politician," Thomas said.

Meanwhile, Hanna said Region Two, comprising St Ann and Trelawny, is poised to lead Jamaica's growth potential and the party is putting in place the best candidates to lead that process.

Excellent choices

The South East St Ann member of parliament boasts of the political experience and community service of Anderson, who has been councillor for 12 years, once in the Dry Harbour division and twice in Browns Town division.

She also said that Thomas' leadership of the JCF and his contribution to the public service are immeasurable, making both candidates excellent choices for the PNP delegates.

But while the PNP attempts to put its house in order in the north-west of the parish, it will have to restart the process in the south-west constituency where Valentine Wint has uprooted himself and has headed to Audley Shaw's North East Manchester.

Wint, a businessman, was the chairman of South West St Ann, a constituency the PNP had high hopes of capturing from the JLP's Ernest Smith.

However, Wint told The Sunday Gleaner that he could not stand the plight of people in North East Manchester and he could no longer stay in South West St Ann although he had fallen in love with the people there.

"I certainly know that Audley Shaw is not the weakest of candidates in the political system here but a candidate that I will beat," Wint said.

Hanna told The Sunday Gleaner that several persons have expressed interests in representing South West St Ann.