In­tense f ight for Claren­don Parish Coun­cil!

JLP in­tends to slay the gi­ant PNP con­fi­dent it will de­fend ma­jor­ity

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Erica Virtue Se­nior Gleaner Writer

THE RUL­ING Ja­maica Labour Party (JLP) has tar­geted the 22-mem­ber mid-is­land mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Claren­don it its quest to wrest con­trol of a ma­jor­ity of parish coun­cils from the op­po­si­tion Peo­ple’s National Party (PNP).

Success in this quest would see the re­moval of sit­ting Mayor Scean Barn­swell, who is also the chair­man of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Au­thor­i­ties (ALGA). Barn­swell, who is seek­ing a fourth con­sec­u­tive term, knows he is a marked man.

The rul­ing party would like noth­ing more than to cut short the term of Barn­swell, who was elected in Septem­ber for two years, which comes to an end in 2018. He told The Sun­day Gleaner that he will put up a strong defence.

“I ex­pect that we will re­tain the coun­cil, be­cause we have done a lot of work in the parish and the var­i­ous con­stituen­cies which make up the coun­cil. In my own di­vi­sion of Hayes, I ex­pect to win con­vinc­ingly,” Barn­swell said. In the March 2012 lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions, he got a 1,263 ma­jor­ity in the Hayes di­vi­sion.

Dur­ing Sun­day Gleaner’s ru­ral tra­verse on the eve of Nom­i­na­tion Day, the com­mon thread through Claren­don was the lush green­ery of the com­mu­ni­ties, as shrub­bery, trees and agri­cul­tural pro­duce smiled with grat­i­tude for the re­cent con­sis­tent heavy rains.

How­ever, bad road con­di­tions in nearly all com­mu­ni­ties were ob­vi­ous. Cou­pled with that, taxi driv­ers and ven­dors in the May Pen Mar­ket, as well as coun­cil­lors and can­di­dates alike, ex­pressed con­cerns over

the lack of employment op­por­tu­ni­ties for young peo­ple. “It is the big­gest chal­lenge in the area in gen­eral – the lack of employment op­por­tu­ni­ties. Then there is the prob­lem of crime, be­cause of the move­ment of peo­ple and the as­so­ci­a­tion of peo­ple with crim­i­nal el­e­ments. It’s re­ally an economic chal­lenge, and it is fac­ing the en­tire coun­try,” Barn­swell said. Since the start of the year, stag­ger­ing crime fig­ures have been re­ported in the parish, with 122 homi­cides, 10 more than the cor­re­spond­ing pe­riod last year. Be­moan­ing the job sit­u­a­tion na­tion­wide, Barn­swell said an in­crease in employment would lead to re­duc­tion in crime.

DAVID AGAINST GO­LIATH

At least one JLP can­di­date said the success of Trans­port and Min­ing Min­is­ter Mike Henry’s plans for the de­vel­op­ment

and com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion of the Ver­nam­field busi­ness model would bring the much-needed employment.

“I am lit­tle David against Go­liath. But I hope we all re­mem­ber that David got the bet­ter of Go­liath,” said Na­dine Ou­tar-Johnson, first-time can­di­date for the Milk River di­vi­sion in the coun­cil.

Ou­tar-Johnson, who was born in Gimme-Me-Bit in the parish, is seek­ing to un­seat in­cum­bent Carl­ton Da­ley who has been the sit­ting coun­cil­lor since 1998.

“I was raised in a PNP fam­ily. My mother, Norma Lind­say, was the PNP’s can­di­date in Cen­tral Claren­don in the gen­eral elec­tion against Mike Henry. But hav­ing seen both sides, I have cho­sen to sup­port the JLP. It re­ally wasn’t a hard sell to rep­re­sent the JLP,” she told Sun­day Gleaner.

She said prior to declar­ing her hand, she had been an ac­tivist for the JLP, but she was now con­vinced that it was time to take the plunge.

Ou­tar-Johnson also sought to

de­clare her le­git­i­macy to the di­vi­sion, tak­ing Sun­day Gleaner to Gimme-Me-Bit, to the sour­sop tree where she said her navel string was planted, even as she dis­played her birth cer­tifi­cate.

“I gather it is be­ing said in the PNP that I was not born here, that I am an out­sider. So here is the tree where my navel string was planted, and that’s the house I grew up in be­fore we moved away,” she de­clared.

“I wish they would con­cern them­selves with the lack of de­vel­op­ment in the com­mu­ni­ties. No de­vel­op­ment, no roads, no wa­ter. It’s like it’s in a time warp and ev­ery­body seems OK with it. Well, I am not,” said the 45-year-old mother of four and grand­mother of three.

With her old­est son and hus­band con­stant cam­paign com­pan­ions, Ou­tar-Johnson said youth employment, skills train­ing, roads and wa­ter are the first items on her agenda.

I WILL WIN

Don­nette Don­ald­son, a teacher at the Kel­lits High School, is a first-time can­di­date for the PNP in the Race Course di­vi­sion in the con­stituency of Claren­don South West.

She is hop­ing to over­turn a

deficit of 46 in the last lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions and take the di­vi­sion from Pauline Reynolds.

“I am a long-time sup­porter of the PNP and I am not only con­fi­dent that I can do it, I am go­ing to do (win) it,” she de­clared.

Don­ald­son has resided in the con­stituency for the last 15 years and her mo­ti­va­tion has al­ways been rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the peo­ple.

“The in­ter­est of the peo­ple has al­ways been my con­cern. Jobs and skills train­ing are re­ally im­por­tant to me. Employment op­por­tu­ni­ties are a must, be­cause here we are be­tween New Yar­mouth and Monymusk sugar fac­to­ries, and sugar is no longer king. With­out job op­por­tu­ni­ties, the future is bleak,” said Don­ald­son.

Don­ald­son has been ac­tively in­volved in com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment and has as­sisted in sports man­age­ment, with foot­ball and cricket teams in the con­stituency. She has sup­ported and en­cour­aged small busi­ness de­vel­op­ment, in­clud­ing chicken and pig rear­ing, and has had to seek mar­kets for the busi­ness op­er­a­tors.

The JLP is de­fend­ing 44 ma­jor­ity in Chap­le­ton; 54 in Race Course; while the PNP is de­fend­ing 15 in Frank­field and 21 in Palmer’s Cross. The PNP will field new can­di­dates in Mo­cho and Chapel­ton, as both in­cum­bents have opted out for var­i­ous rea­sons.

JLP can­di­dates Dei-Rasi Freck­le­ton (May Pen West) and Rad­cliffe McDon­ald (Toll Gate) have both be­moaned the poor roads, lack of jobs and train­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple in the area. Both said that the JLP rep­re­sents the best choice for the parish, as well as de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.

PNP can­di­date teacher Don­nette Don­ald­son, who is seek­ing to win the Race Course di­vi­sion from the JLP’s Pauline Reynolds, shows her cam­paign T-shirt to Mayor Scean Barn­swell at a meet­ing at the Hayes Pri­mary and Ju­nior High School last Thurs­day. Barn­swell is the in­cum­bent in Hayes di­vi­sion.

IAN ALLEN/PHOTOGRAPHER

JLP coun­cil­lor can­di­date, busi­ness­woman Na­dine Ou­tarJohn­son, who is seek­ing to up­set in­cum­bent Carl­ton Da­ley in Milk River, Claren­don, stands be­side a sour­sop tree (with birth cer­tifi­cate in hand) where her navel string (um­bil­i­cal cord) is planted in Gimme-Me-Bit.

Claren­don, Ja­maica

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