Fri | Aug 7, 2020

Morgan credits Rock River councillor for foray into politics

Published:Friday | July 10, 2020 | 12:00 AM
Robert Nesta Morgan (right), who is expected to face the electorate on a Jamaica Labour Party ticket in North Central Clarendon when the next general election is called, embraces councillor Uriah Mitchell after a day on the hustings.
Robert Nesta Morgan speaking with residents of North Central Clarendon during a tour on June 27.
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It all started with a pothole.

After a heavy shower of rain two decades ago, a young Robert Nesta Morgan was frustrated by a huge pothole at his gate and went in search of answers.

“It was about 1999. I had just started Clarendon College sixth form and some wicked rains fell in Woodhall, and there was a big pothole at my gate – like deep, deep,” Morgan, a senator, told The Gleaner.

He said that he first approached then North Central Clarendon Member of Parliament (MP) George Lyn, who told him there was no budget for his area. He then went to Pearnel Charles Sr, who pointed out that he was the constituency caretaker, so he had no money to fix the road.

Morgan was speaking with The Gleaner two Saturdays ago after a day of campaigning in his home community of Woodhall.

Also present was councillor for the Rock River Division in the Clarendon Municipal Corporation, Uriah Mitchell, who Morgan gave a huge embrace.

Mitchell, Morgan pointed out, was the man who first planted the seed of being a MP in his young mind as a sixth-former.

“I used to go to Mr Mitchell’s place ... because him make teeth, and I used to love mechanical things and all of that. A lot of us used to go over his place, and it was on one of those visits [that] I asked him how I could get the road fixed,” Morgan continued, adding that Mitchell was not yet a councillor.

To Morgan’s surprise, Mitchell told him if he could have the road repaired if he became MP himself.

“I remembered saying to him, ‘I’m a sixth-former. I can’t be in politics’,” Morgan told The Gleaner.

“You bright. Gwaan a town go learn politics and come represent your people,” Morgan recalled Mitchell saying.

He then joined Generation 2000, the young professional affiliate of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), rising to the presidency of the chapter at The University of the West Indies, Mona.

He would then return to Clarendon College to teach.

In 2005, when he got a call from a friend informing him that an MP – who turned out to be Andrew Holness – needed an assistant, he jumped at the opportunity.

In the current Holness administration, he serves as a senator and parliamentary secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister.

Commenting on the possibility of having Morgan being elected MP, Mitchell said: “I feel very good. What is most important, he will be my member of parliament and the work that wasn’t done before will get done.”

North Central Clarendon has remained largely in the JLP's winning column since the seat was first contested in the 1967 general election, when it was won by Donald Sangster. It was next represented by Percival Broderick and Errol Dunkley before Lyn broke the spell for the PNP in 1993. Charles took over the reins again for the JLP in 2002. The four-term North Central Clarendon MP – who also represented Eastern St Thomas from 1980-1993 – is set to retire at the end of his current term.

Morgan is expected to face the electorate on the JLP’s ticket in the upcoming polls, going up against the PNP’s Desmond Brennan.

In the 2016 polls, Charles polled 6,256 votes to Brennan’s 5727, a margin of 529 votes.

And, yes, the road was finally fixed in 2018.

Cecelia Campbell-Livingston

 

UPDATE: George Lyn represented the PNP, not the JLP, as was stated in an earlier version of this story.