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Rocky Point senior eyes electoral history for PNP

Clement Lewis revels in being pals with rival Mayor Maragh

Published:Wednesday | November 16, 2022 | 12:07 AMOlivia Brown/Gleaner Writer
Clement Lewis says Mayor Winston Maragh (in background) has done some good work but pledges to do better if he is elected councillor.
Clement Lewis says Mayor Winston Maragh (in background) has done some good work but pledges to do better if he is elected councillor.

Seventy-two-year-old People’s National Party (PNP) councillor candidate Clement Lewis has vowed to make history in the next local government elections when he is voted in as councillor for the Rocky Point division in Clarendon South Eastern.

Lewis made the declaration on Sunday during the Clarendon Northern constituency conference held at Claude McKay High in James Hill in the parish.

The Rocky Point divisional seat is currently held by Councillor Winston Maragh, who is also the mayor of May Pen.

Lewis said he and Maragh are “very good friends” and that the incumbent has done work in the area. But he believes more needs to be done, citing Maragh’s mayoralty as a hurdle to his effectiveness in the division.

“The mayor don’t have enough time, and I think the people deserve more than that,” said Lewis.

The septuagenarian, who first contested the seat in 2016, lost then by a margin of 825, having polled 1,186 votes to Maragh’s 2,011.

“From the inception of politics in Jamaica, PNP has never won that division, and I am confident, because I am a son of the soil. I was born in the division, schooled in the division, and I worked in the division, that is why I say I will make history,” said Lewis.

Atop his list of developmental plans for the division are the establishment of a trade training centre and the rebranding of the division – home of the Rocky Point fishing village – as a tourism mecca, which would yield job opportunities.

“Right now, all we can boast about is that fishing still a go on, but under trying conditions, and I think Rocky Point should be like the capital of Clarendon. The amount of people that used to come from Kingston and all over to Rocky Point to get them fish, eat fish and hang out, and everything just die down,” Lewis told The Gleaner.

He asserted that he could bring back the area’s glory days.

Speaking of his relationship with the mayor, Lewis told The Gleaner that political rivalry has not affected their friendship.

“A little area in my division ... . Salt River, they didn’t have water for how many years, and my competitor, he was instrumental in bringing water to that area,” said Lewis.

“So I don’t want to say the gentleman isn’t doing any good, because I know he was instrumental in putting water there. I am not one who tears down; I am one who build.”

His non-confrontational approach, said Lewis, has earned him detractors among PNP supporters who have labelled him an undercover supporter of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

“The people dem say mi a ‘ginnal’ dem, mi deh on the other side, because if I’m on the road and Mr Maragh sees me, him stop and talk to me, and if I see him, I stop, too. He will even invite me for a drink,” said Lewis.

He admits, however, that he was once affiliated with the JLP, but crossed the floor because of the party’s alleged poor representation within the Clarendon South Eastern constituency. He said, too, the work of former Prime Minister Michael Manley also propelled him to join the PNP.

“Nuh care how yuh bright, if yuh poor, in those days you couldn’t go to university, and Michael Manley changed up all o’ that,” he said.

Lewis told The Gleaner that many have questioned his decision to enter representational politics as a septuagenarian.

“At my age, this would be my last chance at it,” said Lewis of his bid.

He remains undaunted by critics, maintaining that he has “a lot to offer”.