Fri | Apr 12, 2024

Expect no ‘nail-biter,’ say Salt Spring contenders

Published:Wednesday | February 21, 2024 | 12:14 AMAdrian Frater/Gleaner Writer
The People’s National Party’s Sylvan Reid.
The People’s National Party’s Sylvan Reid.
The Jamaica Labour Party’s Gregory Harris.
The Jamaica Labour Party’s Gregory Harris.
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Western Bureau:

When the balance of power in the St James Municipal Corporation (StJMC) shifted from the People’s National Party (PNP) to the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in the 2016 local government elections, one of the four PNP survivors was former Salt Spring division councillor, Sylvan Reid, who scraped home by a mere two votes.

Gregory Harris, the JLP contender, who chased Reid to the finish line, says he has been campaigning assiduously since that narrow loss and he expects to win comfortably on February 26 as the JLP seeks to defend the 13-4 majority in the StJMC, which it won eight years ago.

“We never left the division when we lost in 2016, we stay with the people and put in more work, so we are confident that we will win comfortable this time…no nail-biter,” said Harris. “After he (Reid) won in 2016, he got himself expelled from the council because he was not meeting his obligation to properly represent the people… he abandoned the people…the people deserve better that what he has been offering them.”

However, Reid, who won the division by more than 400 votes in 2012, and blamed complacency on his part for his close 2016 win, says that he has learned his lesson, and has redoubled this campaigning efforts this time around.

“To be honest, I expected to win easily because I know I had served the people well over the years… . I am not going to scrape through by the skin of my teeth this time, I am going to win big,” said Reid. “I am working closely with the first voters, and with my core support from my two previous campaigns, I can tell you that I am ready like Freddy.”

Reid, who feels his 2012 expulsion from the StJMC was an unjustified act by the JLP majority, said the people of the division are ready and waiting to punish the party for what it did to him.

ACHIEVEMENTS DURING TENURE

“I had planned to walk and go into private life, but the people asked me to stay because they need me,” claimed Reid, who said that during his tenure as councillor he has delivered more than 40 houses to residents, repaired and upgraded over 17 roads, and was spending J$7 million to J$8 million on back-to-school and senior citizens projects.

“I want to tell those [the JLP] who got me out of the council that, come February 26, the people of the Salt Spring division are going to punish them for what they did to me and to them. The Don Anderson poll has already told them, but they will see for themselves,” added Reid.

However, with the Salt Spring division having a JLP member of parliament (Heroy Clarke) Harris, who was like an unofficial JLP representative in the division after Reid was expelled, thinks that based on the existing political arrangement, he is best suited person to serve as councillor.

“A JLP councillor working alongside a JLP member of parliament is geared to produce good results because we are on the same team and share the same political ideas,” said Harris. “I have a fully activated machinery on the ground in the division and I am ready to deliver good results to the people.

“There are some minor roads in the division that require repairs, and the Government recently announced a J$40-billion budget for road repairs, so we are expecting that some of those funding will go into the repair of those roads.”

While both candidates are quite confident, some residents in the division, including persons who recently took part in a town hall-style meeting arranged by the Cornwall Court Citizens’ Association, where the two candidates were in attendance answering questions and outlining their plans, believe their primary issues are above the pay grade of the municipal corporation.

“We have fairly good roads, a decent water supply system and garbage collection is okay, our problem is the crime issue and the lack of opportunities for our young people to advance themselves,” said businesswoman Charlet Jones. “Regardless of what we have in terms of infrastructure, we will never be happy if the communities are not safe.”

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