Lack of en­thu­si­asm, low turnout in west

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Adrian Frater News Ed­i­tor adrian.frater@glean­erjm.com

WEST­ERN BUREAU: UN­LIKE IN the gen­eral elec­tion ear­lier this year, there was an ab­sence of en­ergy and en­thu­si­asm across west­ern Ja­maica yes­ter­day as elec­tors stayed away from the polls in large num­bers, giv­ing the process in the re­gion a rather eerie look.

“Based on what I have been hear­ing, the turnout is some­what low, but I sup­pose that is the norm where lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions are con­cerned,” said Sen­a­tor Charles Sin­clair, who heads the Ja­maica Labour Party’s (JLP) ma­chin­ery in west­ern Ja­maica. “We will just have to con­tinue to work to change the per­cep­tion that the lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions are not im­por­tant.”

VI­O­LENCE CON­TIN­UES

In St James, where the op­po­si­tion Peo­ple’s Na­tional Party (PNP) started the day de­fend­ing a 13-4 ma­jor­ity in the mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­ra­tion (for­merly par­ish coun­cil), the most sig­nif­i­cant fea­ture was the ro­bust po­lice-mil­i­tary pres­ence in sev­eral volatile com­mu­ni­ties. In­ter­est­ingly, one man was shot dead and a school­boy in­jured in the on­go­ing vi­o­lence that has been plagu­ing Cheer­ful Com­rades in Mt Salem. RIGHT: Ja­maica Labour Party work­ers in Green Pond.

the par­ish.

In com­mu­ni­ties like Green Pond and Glen­de­von, many young­sters staged un­sanc­tioned street par­ties while turn­ing their backs on the elec­toral process.

“Dem have to put ‘lotto scam’ on the bal­lot if they want our vote,” one young man told The Gleaner in Green Pond. “Scam­ming is our best rep­re­sen­ta­tive round here. Look how many com­mu­ni­ties it is tak­ing care of. That is my mem­ber of par­lia­ment and coun­cil­lor.”

In Hanover, where the PNP en­tered the day with a 6-1 ma­jor­ity, the only real en­ergy was in Cauld­well di­vi­sion, where the PNP’s Sheri­dan Sa­muels; and PNP de­fec­tor-turnedin­de­pen­dent can­di­date Dahlia Mitchell had emerged as the main con­tenders.

“I am ex­pect­ing a stiff bat­tle to the fin­ish line be­tween Sa­muels and Mitchell,” said busi­ness­man Craig Oates, a mem­ber of the PNP hi­er­ar­chy in Hanover.

“It will all go down to who can bring out the most late vot­ers.”

In West­more­land, which saw the PNP sweep­ing 14-0 in 2012, the fi­nal count had the party los­ing five di­vi­sions yes­ter­day.

“No bet­ter her­ring, no bet­ter bar­rel,” a woman told The Gleaner in the Corn­wall Moun­tain di­vi­sion, in re­ject­ing both the PNP and JLP.

“We have hor­ri­ble roads and in­con­sis­tent wa­ter sup­ply and we rarely see any politi­cians in these parts ... . They just want to use us.”

In Trelawny and St El­iz­a­beth, the vot­ers were seem­ingly not mo­ti­vated enough to come out in big num­bers, and, like the other west­ern parishes, ba­si­cally stayed away in sig­nif­i­cant num­bers.

PHOTO BY ADRIAN FRATER

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