Both par­ties con­fi­dent of lo­cal govern­ment vic­tory

It will go way of gen­eral elec­tion – McKen­zie; PNP in de­fence mode – Arscott

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Erica Virtue Se­nior Gleaner Writer erica.virtue@glean­erjm.com

LO­CAL GOVERN­MENT min­is­ter and Ja­maica Labour Party (JLP) deputy leader, Des­mond McKen­zie, ex­pects the re­sults of the Novem­ber 28 lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions to go the way of the gen­eral elec­tion – with the party win­ning the ma­jor­ity of the 228 di­vi­sions.

They cur­rently have 75 di­vi­sions, with the op­po­si­tion Peo­ple’s Na­tional Party (PNP) hold­ing 151, with a tie in Trelawny.

McKen­zie said he was con­fi­dent of the party’s vic­tory, com­ing from be­hind in the Novem­ber 28 polls, with the JLP con­trol­ling only one coun­cil and the PNP con­trol­ling 13 and the Port­more Mu­nic­i­pal­ity. The for­mer Kingston mayor and coun­cil­lor for the Tivoli Gar­dens di­vi­sion will be bank­ing on lo­cal govern­ment his­tory, which has sup­ported the gen­eral elec­tion re­sults – ex­cept for the 1986 lo­cal polls, in which the JLP, which was in power, lost the coun­cil­ship due in part to its sup­port of the Gre­nada revo­lu­tion in 1983.

“We are hav­ing a gen­eral cam­paign and I know it sounds im­pos­si­ble to say that you are tar­get­ing all, but one of the things we have to ap­pre­ci­ate is that we have rep­re­sen­ta­tives in all di­vi­sions. So we have to pay at­ten­tion to all,” McKen­zie told The Sun­day Gleaner.

He said he did not ex­pect a walkover in the quest for vic­tory, but there were some pri­or­ity coun­cils. He said in the last elec­tion, some di­vi­sions were lost by small num­bers of elec­tors, which were en­cour­ag­ing signs. He now be­lieves that the party is more or­gan­ised and will have the mo­men­tum on the ground.

“We have the mo­men­tum. We have ev­ery­thing that is go­ing. I can’t pre­dict num­bers, be­cause I am not in the game of pre­dict­ing, but we have a one-seat ma­jor­ity and we are the govern­ment. The con­fi­dence level is very high and there is no way that we will not come out with the ma­jor­ity of coun­cils,” de­clared McKen­zie.

“There are go­ing to be pri­or­i­ties. We know what it is that we have tar­geted and we are work­ing ac­cord­ingly to en­sure vic­tory. Re­mem­ber, now we ac­tu­ally have no par­ish coun­cils.”

He con­tin­ued, “There are prized mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties that one would want, and we con­sider all of them to be prized. What we are do­ing in terms of our pro­gramme of cam­paign­ing is widespread and it in­volves on-the­ground con­tact, iden­ti­fy­ing al­most all the mu­nic­i­pal coun­cils, look­ing at the di­vi­sions, be­cause the fig­ures com­ing from the last mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions, they were more than en­cour­ag­ing.”

He said all the JLP’s coun­cil­lors and care­taker coun­cil­lors have un­der­gone rig­or­ous train­ing ses­sions.

ELEC­TION IS WAR

Mean­while, the op­po­si­tion PNP, which was in govern­ment dur­ing the March 2012 lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions, said it will be seek­ing to de­fend the coun­cils it now con­trols.

The party’s na­tional cam­paign di­rec­tor Noel Arscott, who is the spokesman on the port­fo­lio, said all can­di­dates are in place.

“We are go­ing to pull out the stops to de­fend what we have. We have them al­ready, so they will have to take them. But we are not go­ing to roll over and say be­cause they are the govern­ment it usu­ally goes that way. No. Elec­tions is like a war and, there­fore, we have to de­fend what we have,” de­clared Arscott.

He said the party will be run­ning a lo­cal cam­paign and will be seek­ing to ham­mer home the fail­ures of the Govern­ment, and the failed prom­ises on which it came into power.

“The eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion in the coun­try is bit­ing. They have come to of­fice on prom­ises which they have not kept, and the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the $1.5m in­crease in in­come tax thresh­old should have been done with­out any ad­di­tional tax­a­tion. Then there is the sit­u­a­tion with the dol­lar. So really, they have not de­liv­ered on their prom­ises,” ar­gued Arscott.

He said the PNP is work­ing on the ground but noted that tra­di­tion­ally vot­ing trends were lower than in gen­eral elec­tions. This was not sin­gu­lar to Ja­maica, he said, and he ex­pects it to con­tinue, “but enough to keep the PNP ahead”.

Like the JLP, Arscott said the PNP has di­vi­sions which it has tar­geted.

The last lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions were held on March 26, 2012, which di­rectly elected 228 di­vi­sional coun­cil­lors and the mayor of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Port­more. Since In­de­pen­dence in 1962, lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions have been held in 1966, 1969, 1974, 1977, 1981, 1986, 1990, 1998, 2003, 2007, and 2012.

Lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions have been due since March 2015. In the up­com­ing elec­tions, nom­i­na­tion day is this Fri­day, Novem­ber 11, be­fore Ja­maicans head to the polls on Novem­ber 28.

ARSCOTT

MCKEN­ZIE

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