Fri | Apr 19, 2024

Strategising for showdown

JLP plots to nullify PNP’s Portmore dominance and snag St Catherine MC

Published:Wednesday | February 21, 2024 | 12:11 AMRuddy Mathison/Gleaner Writer
Norman Scott, mayor of Spanish Town.
Norman Scott, mayor of Spanish Town.
Two-term Councillor Theresa Turner, who is tipped to become the mayor of Spanish Town if the JLP wins the municipal corporation.
Two-term Councillor Theresa Turner, who is tipped to become the mayor of Spanish Town if the JLP wins the municipal corporation.
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With 41 divisions, the St Catherine Municipal Corporation is one of the largest local authority in the island and a key target for the two major political parties in the local government elections.

In the 2016 polls, the People’s National Party (PNP) secured the reins with a narrow one-division win over the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), with the help of 10 councillors from Portmore.

Notably, Greater St Catherine – consisting of Spanish Town and its adjoining towns and districts without Portmore – has 29 divisions and can, by itself, produce the majority needed to form the municipal corporation.

Despite the Government putting a pause on its push for parish status for Portmore, a move which could have changed the dynamics in the St Catherine Municipal Corporation, the JLP is aiming to win the municipal corporation despite being disadvantaged by Portmore.

The JLP won 19 of the 29 divisions in Greater St Catherine in 2016 and could have captured the municipal corporation it had secured victories in at least two of three close contests. After recounts in the Angels division, the PNP’s Patricia Harris defeated Kerensia Morrison (JLP) by 17 votes. In the Ginger Ridge division, Ralston Wilson (PNP) won by 18 votes, and Sidney Rose (PNP) bagged the Treadways division with a 29-vote margin.

As the nation prepares to head to the polls again, the JLP is optimistic that it can turn the tables on the PNP, retaining the seats it won in 2016 and wresting three more from the PNP.

Two-term Councillor Theresa Turner, who won the Hampton Green division by securing 89 per cent of the votes in 2016, is tipped to become the mayor of Spanish Town if she retains her seat and the JLP is successful this time around.

“I am confident. It is our time. As a sitting councillor over the years, my fellow colleagues are looking to me to lead them as their mayor, and when I get there, you will see what a female mayor can do,” a confident Turner told The Gleaner.

INCUMBENT

The PNP’s Norman Scott, who represented the Greendale division and held the mayor’s chair for three terms, will likely return as mayor if the PNP is victorious.

While optimistic about his overall chances, he is somewhat cautious.

“I don’t want to be a fortune teller, but I think we will do better this time than the last time,” Scott said. “I would say I have done enough work, and my work is there as a testimony, and I think that the people of St Catherine will want to see that we continue to give the kind of service we have been giving over the years.”

The PNP is targeting some divisions that went to the JLP in 2016, including the Troja division in St Catherine North Eastern, where William Cytall, who won in 2016 and switched allegiance from the JLP to PNP in 2022, is facing JLP newcomer Robert Grandison; the Old Harbour South division, where Dr Kurt Waul (PNP) will face the JLP’s Lloyd Grant; and the Red Hills division, where the JLP replaced its standard-bearer of 10 years, Keith McCook, with funeral home director Michael Archer. McCook has since opted to run as an independent candidate.

The PNP is also eyeing the Guy’s Hill division, where former JLP Councillor Winston Chambers is running on the PNP ticket against JLP newcomer Joseph Johnson. The JLP opted not to retain Leroy Dunn, who won the division in 2016. Dunn will be contesting as an independent candidate.

In the Angels division, Patricia Harris (PNP) will this time face off with George Moodie, who won for the JLP in 2016 in the Ensom City division, but was left out of the slate of candidates in the St Catherine Central constituency. He was, however, selected by the party to contest the Angels division in St Catherine North Central.

ruddy.mathison@gleanerjm.com