Fri | Apr 12, 2024

JLP defector Morris brings Mocho home for the PNP

Published:Tuesday | February 27, 2024 | 3:17 AMTanesha Mundle/Staff Reporter
Romaine Morris, People’s National Party candidate for the Mocho division in North Central Clarendon, and supporters at Stewarton United Church in the parish during yesterday’s local government election.
Romaine Morris, People’s National Party candidate for the Mocho division in North Central Clarendon, and supporters at Stewarton United Church in the parish during yesterday’s local government election.

Despite switching allegiance to represent the People’s National Party (PNP) in Mocho, Clarendon, incumbent councillor Romaine Morris snatched a historic win, putting the PNP in charge after decades of being in the wilderness.

The triumphant political turncoat polled 1,240 votes while his opponent, Clement Alves, polled 1,049.

Morris in January jumped ship amid ongoing conflict with Robert Morgan, member of parliament for the North Central Clarendon, in which the division falls.

However, Morris, who had secured a victory for the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) stronghold in the 2016 local government elections by 400 votes, was not worried that his transition would affect his chances.

Earlier in the day an upbeat and beaming Morris told The Gleaner he was confident of a victory.

“We have the support of the people even now. The team that is now mobilising for the ballot in the box is a blend of disheartened Labourites and die-hearted Comrades.

“My chances are very high and I am confident that victory will be ours because of what you can see on the ground,” he told the media.

Morris said the programmes he implemented around upliftment and empowerment, which saw unskilled persons being trained in new skills and unemployed individuals securing jobs, resonated with the people whom he represented.

“It is what the people want and what we have been focusing on here in Mocho. We want a breadwinner in every single house because that is how you have a sustainable community and that’s how you can have redevelopment and take the pressure off the state,” he added.

Asked what message should persons take away from his decision to cross the floor, Morris said, “My switch is not the first and gone are the days when people believe in die-heartedness. People want proper representation and what is demonstrated here today in Mocho is that, no matter where the representation is, people will follow because at the end of the day, they want to ensure that they receive the representation.

“Today people are telling me ‘Romaine, mi naa turn no PNP but mi a support you the individual’. I think that should be the job of every politician to ensure that the people follow them.

“If you a politician and you an incumbent, you should be able to garner support no matter where you go.”

LOVED BY BOTH

Yesterday afternoon, when The Gleaner visited the Stewarton Primary School polling station, where Morris voted, the love from supporters from both sides was evident as they greeted him and spoke glowingly of his stewardship.

A group of young women, clad in orange garb, disclosed that they were planning to switch sides just to support him but were overjoyed that he had come over to their side.

Gabriel, a first-time 19-year-old voter, said although she is “a born PNP” it was Morris’ work that motivated her to vote.

“He is for the young people and that is what we need,” she said, adding, “This will now be a PNP division.”

An elder PNP supporter, Vincent Spencer, who described Morris as the “chief architect of ‘smaditisation’, said it’s a consensus that the party has fully endorsed Morris.

As for himself, Spencer said he has never been this confident about any other representative and that he believed Morris will continue to bring about good changes in the division.

“Normally in an election we would have to quail up and fold hands,” he said, noting that this time it’s different.

But nearby, at Ashley All-Age School polling station which had six poling divisions and a massive gathering, JLP supporters expressed mixed feelings about Morris, while claiming victory.

Some of the supporters said they could not deny the positive work that he has done while others expressed bitterness at his decision, noting that they will never forgive him.

During the Gleaner’s stop, supporters from both parties engaged each other in a tracing match as they argued about who had rejected Morris and who had claimed him.

But the JLP party supporters, despite admitting that they were worried about their chance on nomination day, said they had moved passed that and were confident that Alves would win.

While some admitted he was not on the same level as Morris in terms of representation, they felt he was a good candidate who genuinely cared about the people.

Over in Chapelton division where the JLP’s Hershell Brown staved off a contest from first-time PNP candidate, Fraince Douglas, supporters from both ends were confident of victory, with those from the PNP expressing dissatisfaction with the representation in the division.

Brown secured 1,683 votes while Douglas put up a good fight to garner 1,375 votes.

Like in Mocho, where voting appeared slow, it was a similar observation at some of the polling stations in Chapelton which The Gleaner visited. Large crowds and long lines were missing.

Douglas, who was spotted at Clarendon College polling station after transporting voters said he was not worried.

He jokingly said, “Do I look like a loser?” referencing a phrase made popular by former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.

Noting that he was confident about his chances, Douglas said, “Mi young, vibrant, with the people, for the people and live with the people.”

According to him, it was the people who asked him to enter representational politics and he was desirous of giving back because he benefited from similar assistance.

He shared that someone had assisted him in getting on the farm work programme which helped him to better his education and improve his life.

Therefore, he said, “Opportunity is there for everyone, so when I see nothing going on in my community, in my division for my young people and the old people also we don’t know who to call or who to go to, I have to step up.”

tanesha.mundle@gleanerjm.com