Excitement in Portland
SEVERAL Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and People’s National Party (PNP) supporters who turned up for yesterday’s Nomination Day in Portland Eastern said missing the occasion was not an option and so they made prior arrangements with their employers to be absent from work.
Labourites and Comrades who spoke with the Jamaica Observer just metres away from the Port Antonio Courthouse, where the nomination process took place, insisted that the excitement associated with the day was a must-see and also that their employers would more than understand the need to support their party’s candidate.
Amid the fanfare, the PNP’s Damion Crawford and the JLP’s Ann Marie Vaz and were both nominated, at 10:10 am and minutes to 12:00, respectively.
Party faithful said being present was more about support for their preferred candidate, with several expressing undying love and solidarity.
PNP supporter Sarel Bailey said he took time off from work to support Crawford because he believes in the principles, vision and plans of the Opposition senator.
“I believe that he is the better candidate at this time to represent East Portland and to take the constituency from its current condition to his vision, which I believe is good for us. He is the ideal candidate because he believes in education; he believes in entrepreneurship; he believes in tourism, youth development and empowerment. He believes that people should not be dependent on politicians for anything but instead be independent. He will ensure growth, and so I support Damion Crawford,” Bailey said.
Bob Bryan is supporting Crawford because he believes “he is the best person for the job”. He said, among other this, that Crawford appears to be in tune with the needs of the constituency’s youth and mentioned that he is likely to provide better support for them.
“He is for the development of East Portland. Damion Crawford is the right candidate because right now a development him a deal wid and wi nah sell out. I didn’t go to work today because it is very important enuh fi see the People’s National Party [retain] power in this seat. Watch here, we can’t make a handful of people really control and lock off everything so therefore me believe everything a go free under Damion — more education fi di youth dem, no handout,” the elderly man said.
Rudolf Brown made his way to the nomination centre to lend support to Crawford because the PNP candidate has campaigned on education. Brown told the Jamaica Observer that he is a firm believer in an educated population.
“The plans that Mr Crawford has I strongly support him on them. Today I made arrangements with my workplace to take the day off so that I can be here in full support of Mr Damion Crawford. With the plans that he outlined he will win,” the young man said.
Ral Nunes stated that if Portland Eastern constituents are to be properly represented they have to choose the best. His best is Crawford.
“You need persons who can also communicate and tell them their ideas. Persons who can tell what they are going to do. You cannot run an election and want to represent people and you’re not enunciating what are your plans. And so, when you look at both candidates, the choice is almost automatic — unless you are blind,” said Nunes.
“I’ve been coming here all week because I am dedicated to the cause and to the uplifting of my brothers and sisters,” he added.
Andrea Almond is unemployed, but said she is desperate for Crawford to sit in Parliament. She said constituents are suffering and that Crawford will change that.
“One love, straight. Damion to di thing. We need him. Mi take time to carry mi daughter go school this morning and seh mi a come support Damion pon di thing because mi see seh Damion here and Damion a go help East Portland and turn ’round East Portland straight. Power! Damion to di thing,” the animated woman stressed.
Like Bailey, Leroy Wilson believes that Crawford is the better candidate.
“There are two candidates. One is good, but the other is better, in fact, superlative best. We have to support the best, and as far as I am concerned Damion is the best. He has a plan; we nuh hear nuh other plan. We only a see running up and down and a hear prosperity, but there is no plan. Damion came here with a plan for the parish and for the people of the parish, so we have to support the best. I took timeout just to give support,” the man said.
JLP supporter Devana Harris, in the meantime, expressed frustration with the PNP’s representation for the past 30 years.
“[There is] no infrastructure, nothing at all we nuh have here. We nuh have no resources; we nuh have centres. We nuh have nothing at all fi 30 years. Wi sick and tired of it. PNP must go, the time is now,” Harris said.
She also told the Observer that she took time off from work because Vaz “is worth it”. The woman said Vaz is more likely to bring about major changes in Portland Eastern.
Added to that, Ian Serinash argued that Vaz is “investing in the place”. He said that she has been “cleaning up” the constituency, has been involved in infrastructure development, and has a vested interest in tourism development there.
“We need a better Portland right now. I take time off from work because I love my party and I want Miss Ann to go in the House of Parliament,” said Serinash.
Dacia Ellis said she ventured to Portland in support of Vaz because it is time for a leadership change in the constituency.
“Road, water, [electricity], education and whole heap of things are needed and I think Miss Ann Marie is the one for this change. Not even work couldn’t hold me. Mi affi deh ya suh. If mi deh a work mi a nervous mi nah go know weh mi a do. Mi affi deh ya suh. Ms Ann a nominate suh wi affi deh ya fi support Misss Ann,” Ellis said.
Vincent Bryan is unemployed but he said he had to “show up” for Vaz and the JLP, which his family has been supporting for decades.
“Mi born know mi family as Labourites, and the JLP always supporting my family so I am support Ann,” he said.
For Shanica Morrison, Vaz oozes confidence and is believable as it relates to the plans she has for the constituency. That is why she said she is supporting her.
“To how she sound, she sound like she would be willing fi help the young people. So, yeah, mi willing fi support her if a that be the case,” Morrison said.
Like others, Yvonne Dennis is confident that, through Vaz, young people will have greater educational opportunities. She expressed, too, that Vaz stands a better chance of achieving development for the constituency.
“We want uplifting of the country and the youth dem fi get better education. The constituency must get road and water. If mi affi lose mi work today mi affi reach ya suh fi support Jamaica Labour Party,” said Dennis.
The Portland Eastern by-election is scheduled for April 4.