(JAMAICA OBSERVER) – Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) mayors are confident of retaining the majority seats in their respective parish councils in the March 26 local government elections, despite the party not having completed a review to determine the reasons for the crushing defeat to the People’s National Party (PNP) in the December 29 general election.
The incumbent mayors said Tuesday that they are satisfied with the management structure which the party has since put in place in each parish to ensure a victory.
Mayor of Montego Bay Charles Sinclair said the councillor/candidates are satisfied with “the attitude and approach taken, and the management structure which has been put in place [by the party]“. Sinclair, who chaired a press conference at the JLP’s Belmont Road headquarters in Kingston Tuesday, also expressed confidence in the persons who have been selected to lead the campaign procedures at the parish level.
The parish leaders are Desmond McKenzie for Kingston and St Andrew; James Robertson, St Thomas; Robert Montague, St Mary; Shahine Robinson for St Ann; Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert, Trelawny; Horace Chang, St James; Edmund Bartlett and Paula Kerr-Jarrett for Hanover; Christopher Tufton, St Elizabeth; Audley Shaw for Manchester; Michael Stern and Rudyard Spence for Clarendon; and Everard Warmington and Babsy Grange for St Catherine.
“We are going to put in place what we consider to be the best team approach and we already have the organisation in place in every division,” Sinclair told reporters. He said the strategy being employed by all the JLP councillor candidates is a house-to-house approach in every community.
Meanwhile, Mayor of Black River Jeremy Palmer said he was aware of the organisational errors that were made in the December polls, but insisted that things are in place to correct those. “It was as a result of low voter turnout and organisation inefficiencies which may have led to our defeat,” he said.
The JLP mayors insisted that the party is ready to contest the election and will be back in control of the majority of councils, based on the track record of their performance.
Eight of 10 mayors came to the press conference armed with a long and impressive list of achievements since taking over the councils in Montego Bay, Spanish Town, Black River, Morant Bay, Port Antonio, Portmore and Kingston and St Andrew.
Sinclair, speaking on behalf of the party, said after more than 70 days in office, the PNP has shown that they do not have a plan for the country, with the promises made yet to be fulfilled.
“If the stewardship of national affairs should go awry or the PNP should go off on a political frolic of its own, pursuing issues that are of no relevance to our current economic situation, then we must ensure that there is a solid and effective local government to protect our communities,” Sinclair said. He argued, too, that local government must be used as a means of balancing the vicissitudes and national failures or interactions in central government.
In a statement similar to the controversial one made by the Opposition Leader Andrew Holness recently, Sinclair said the PNP ‘tun up di ting” in crime, among others areas. “We certainly didn’t expect them to do so with crime, the re-introduction of public hospital user fees, the slipping exchange rate which will have an effect on inflation, and political cronyism that led to an unnecessary extension of a fire at the Riverton City dump which wreaked havoc on parts of Kingston for days,” Sinclair charged. And worse we are now seeing an alarming increase in police killings as a response strategy to crime.”
Noting that the JLP needs to “balance di ting”, Sinclair said the local government election should be used to send a message to the PNP that the country wants to continue on a positive path.
Sinclair also wants the message sent that that no one political party will have such overwhelming political sway that they can underperform or stray from the service of the people without a balancing force and voice of reasoning to keep them focused and ready to take the reigns of government when they fail.
In defending the claims against the PNP, the mayors said the mechanism put in place by the Government seems to be falling apart as the crime rate continues to escalate.