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JLP mayors 'comfortable' ahead of local polls

Published:Wednesday | March 14, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Eight Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) mayors yesterday signalled that they were "comfortable" with the operational systems put in place by the party secretariat for the upcoming local government elections.

This announcement comes despite an ongoing "strategic review" announced by JLP Leader Andrew Holness after the party's crushing defeat to the People's National Party (PNP) in the December 29 general election.

Amid questions about the style of governance of some in the last JLP administration and whether the secretariat was prepared for the December polls, Holness disclosed in January that the review would help the party understand why it lost and create a document outlining the way forward.

Acknowledging that the review was still being conducted, Mayor of Black River Jeremy Palmer argued that this would not affect the JLP's chances in the upcoming local government polls.

"Organisational errors might have led to our defeat ... but we can correct those without a strategic review," Palmer said yesterday during a press conference at the JLP's Belmont Road, New Kingston, headquarters.

Added Palmer: "You can correct it right there with your workers on the ground, and it is being done as we speak."

Support from secretariat

His colleague in Montego Bay, Charles Sinclair, agreed, saying councillor candidates are getting support from the party secretariat, individual members of parliament and constituency caretakers.

"For the parish of St James, we are satisfied with the attitude and the approach that has been taken," said Sinclair.

The Montego Bay mayor avoided questions about the JLP's budget for the local government polls, but said candidates would be required to help generate their own funds.

Campaigning under the theme 'Our Community Our Responsibility', he said JLP candidates would be going into every household in their divisions to campaign.

"Local government is what's closest to the people, and every candidate must adopt that approach and ensure that they are close to the persons (in their divisions)," he said.

Nearly 500 candidates from the JLP, the PNP and several third parties were nominated on March 5 to contest the 228 parish council divisions islandwide.

The press conference was called to boast about some of the achievements in parish councils controlled by the JLP and all eight mayors pointed to improved accountability and transparency as one of the successes.

The JLP won all but four parish councils in 2007 - Manchester, Westmoreland, Hanover and St Ann. In the process, the party won 133 of the 227 divisions. The PNP won 94 divisions.

The number of divisions was later increased to 228.