Monday, November 14, 2011

Electioneering, Jamaican-style


Paula Kerr-Jarrett, who will represent the JLP for the Eastern Hanover constituency
PNP's Dr Dayton Campbell, a medical doctor, who will contest the St Ann North West seat

JEAN LOWRIE-CHIN | Observer Column | Monday, November 14, 2011

Jamaica's multifaceted personality sparkles at election time. Oh yes, this is democracy grooving to a dancehall beat, bells and trumpets. In a single breathless day, there is an exciting panoply of sights and sounds, thanks to the omnipresent media. Let's take last Thursday. In the morning, we read that Dr St Aubyn Bartlett would be replaced by Dr Sapphire Longmore-Dropinski as the JLP candidate for the Eastern St Andrew constituency. By evening, we see Dr Bartlett on the news saying that his supporters do not want him to go, so he may be staying.

The Observer website has photos of the PNP motorcade in Portland, with a lot of orange-garbed folk protruding through windows. On television, we see KD Knight swaggering on the campaign trail like a Jamaican John Wayne.

We hear Danville Walker explaining on morning radio that he saw a transport deficit for the Central Manchester police and asked Stewart's to donate vehicles, whereupon MP for the area Peter Bunting sent up howls of protest. By evening, it is announced that the vehicles will go to the commissioner's office for his decision on where they would be assigned.

We enjoyed a refreshing interlude when three young, fresh-faced candidates spoke on Cliff Hughes' Impact about their resolve to make a difference. The luminous and energetic Paula Kerr-Jarrett, who will represent the JLP for the Eastern Hanover constituency, explained her belief that "to those that much is given, much is required". As a daughter of privilege, the attorney-at-law is not your typical politician, but she explained that service had always been a way of life as she grew up in a home where her parents Chris and Michelle Bovell were fine exemplars of patriotic philanthropy. She spoke about spending time "listening" to the people and reflecting on their positive attitude despite their humble circumstances.

The two young PNP candidates were also inspiring. Mechanical engineer Leonard Green, who will be vying for the Western St Thomas constituency, and Dr Dayton Campbell, a doctor, who will contest the St Ann North West seat are accomplished young men who had humble beginnings. They were both born in the constituencies for which they are running, and in recalling their personal struggles, want to give a hand up to the residents in their respective areas. Dr Campbell, who is only 28 years old, is now studying for a law degree.

On the news, we saw the brilliant Senator Marlene Malahoo-Forte announce her plans to serve Westmoreland, the parish of her birth. The former Mannings High School head girl is proving to be an energetic JLP campaigner for the Central Westmoreland seat. However, one should not underestimate the PNP's jovial candidate Roger Clarke.

The new candidates, PNP's Damion Crawford for West Rural St Andrew and JLP's Collin Virgo for South Manchester, also acquitted themselves well on CVM TV's Direct. Soon we will find out if the land of Bob Marley will embrace a Rastafarian representative. Like Dr Dayton Campbell, Virgo is only 28 years old.

Shakespeare must have witnessed our election cut and thrust to declare "all the world's a stage". On Thursday, Luther Buchanan, the PNP's member of parliament for Eastern Westmoreland, also planned to apologise publicly to JLP caretaker Don Foote for tearing his shirt in a fracas during the 2007 election campaign. Later in the day, the plot thickened as we were told that there was a demonstration against Mr Foote's representation by JLP supporters.

As we approach November 20, the second day of the JLP Annual Conference when we expect Election Day to be announced, we will be seeing much excitement and drama. Our prayers are with the brave members of the JCF as they work to keep the peace.

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