Wed | Sep 30, 2020

Franklin’s camp brimming with confidence

Published:Friday | August 14, 2020 | 12:26 AMChristopher Serju/Senior Gleaner Writer
Denesha Francis is certain that voters in St Elizabeth South Eastern will return Franklin Witter as their member of parliament come September 3.
Denesha Francis is certain that voters in St Elizabeth South Eastern will return Franklin Witter as their member of parliament come September 3.

Confidence is running high in the Jamaica Labour Party’s Franklin Witter’s camp in St Elizabeth South Eastern even as Dwaine Spencer, a medical doctor and younger brother of Kern Spencer, plots to wrest the seat from him for the People’s National Party when the dust settles on the September 3 poll.

Consisting of four divisions – Junction, Southfield, Malvern, and Myersville – the constituency is a battleground seat which Witter won by 205 votes in 2016.

However, his campaign manager, Philbert Thomas, is convinced that the lessons learnt from that close shave have brought Witter much closer to the constituents.

“Him don’t need an office. Is the only MP (member of parliament) me see man sit down at his gate by 5:30 in the morning and by the time him rise, them sit down in a house. Him hardly need an office,” Thomas said.

“Church, funeral, dance, him socialise right round the clock with him constituents this time. Them say him hide from the people the last time. This time round, he is with the people,” he added, showing off his private vehicle, which is already outfitted with a green flashing light with a campaign advertisement booming from the speakers.

“Me see him in a good position. Frank have the love of the people and since becoming MP, he has done a lot of work like fixing roads, light, bringing the water now, and completing the Essex Valley agricultural project,” Thomas explained, adding that Spencer was not a threat as his brother’s legacy hangs a dark cloud over him.

“A lot a Kern thing spill off pon him and it a stick to him. That is the feeling on the ground and me know because me close to what is happening in the constituency,” said Thomas.

When The Gleaner visited Witter’s constituency office, Secretary Antekia Morgan, workers Denesha Francis and Aneik Hendricks, along with Witter’s wife, Normalyn, were all in election mode.

“We have done our canvassing, we have confirmed our indoor agents, supervisors and runners – all of that is in place,” Francis boasted. “He (Witter) has been doing a lot in the constituency and the people are realising that he is here to serve them.”

GRANTS FOR STUDENTS

Agriculture, education, health, housing, road rehabilitation, light and water are some of the areas in which projects have been undertaken, she said.

The list for education vouchers was being finalised during our visit, with college grants, bursaries to the top-performing girl and boy in the Primary Exit Profile exam at all primary schools in the constituency, and grants for needy students were among the offerings. There was also assistance for those needing help to fill prescriptions.

“Dr Spencer doesn’t have a chance. Him a go melt like butter ‘gainst sun,” Francis added. “You have to understand that Mr Witter is the rock of South East. Everybody goes to him, whether they are JLP or PNP [supporters] and they all get help. I have a lot of people who have applied for education assistance and they are going to get help.”

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com