Tue | Jan 19, 2021

The Battle for NW St Andrew | Perform or perish - Residents putting by-election victor on probation

Published:Saturday | March 3, 2018 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue
The JLP's Dr Nigel Clarke (second right) accompanied on his way to be nominated to contest tomorrow's by-election in St Andrew North West.
The PNP's Keisha Hayle (centre) being accompanied by senior members of the party to be nominated to contest tomorrow's by-election in St Andrew North West.

In reality, it will not be an acting post, but whoever is elected the new member of parliament for St Andrew North West tomorrow will be put on probation by the residents, who are demanding performance.

Dr Nigel Clarke of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and Keisha Hayle of the People's National Party (PNP) will square off tomorrow in a battle to replace the long-serving Derrick Smith, who held the constituency for the JLP for 29 years until his recent resignation.

"We have lived with 29 years of promises from Derrick Smith and we will not accept that from either Keisha or Nigel. Anyone me vote for will have to perform or me and me friends a go push them out when the next election come," said Mark, a resident of Maverley in the constituency.




"Me a Labourite and me always vote fi Derrick, but right now a better me a look fi me and mi youth dem, so if that mean me have fi vote for the PNP then a so, because me nah tek no more promise, promise, promise," added Mark.

In recent weeks, senior members of both parties, including JLP leader Prime Minister Andrew Holness and former PNP president Portia Simpson Miller, have swarmed the constituency in an aggressive ground campaign.

Residents have also seen sidewalks being repaired, potholes stuffed with marl and renovation work started on some roads, with others being promised, but that has not been enough.

According to Jelani Grant of West Main Drive in Maverley, he has never seen so many politicians in one place in his entire life of more than 20 years.

"Politicians from both sides have been here, but we never see Derrick Smith, and we don't want another Derrick either. But it is good that the two sides are walking together with no fuss," said Grant.

"West Main Drive is in a terrible condition, as you can see. But no attention is paid to it. I also hope that in Hughenden and Glendale they will replace the street lights. The areas are notorious for robberies," added Grant.




Kingston's Mayor Delroy Williams, who has been a key part of the JLP's ground campaign in the constituency, was leading a team on Sherlock Crescent in Duhaney Park last Friday when he told The Sunday Gleaner that the party is determined to increase its margin of victory.

"I am here to see first-hand the needs of the people," said Williams in an area where more than 40 potholes were being patched.

"The two parties are here campaigning, roads are being fixed while garbage collection is a problem, but the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) is aware of it," added Williams.

But even as Williams pointed to the road repairs, one resident, Douglas 'Dougie' Bell, said despite the years of representation by Smith, nothing was done to Sherlock Crescent where residents have traditionally voted overwhelmingly for the JLP.

"We bun out Duane Smith when him come down here with Dr Clarke. If he was working in all the areas, we wouldn't have a Nigel Clarke. This area used to be called 'Little Tivoli', because it is the belly of Labourite support in the constituency and they didn't do anything until now," declared Bell.

Taxi driver Kenneth 'Jerry' McAnuff, of Brook Valley in the constituency, welcomed the attention being paid to the constituency since the by-election was declared.

"I never see so many roads being fixed in my entire life. But is a good ting because de car dem a suffer. The pothole cause the front end to mash up every day, and if Nigel is not MP yet and getting so much done, that is excellent. So even if only because of a by-election mi glad fi it," said McAnuff.