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Switch an’ miss!

Venesha Phillips whipped in Papine division

Published:Tuesday | February 27, 2024 | 3:17 AMCorey Robinson/Senior Staff Reporter
Some supporters of the Jamaica Labour Party’s Venesha Phillips in August Town, St Andrew, on Monday.
Some supporters of the Jamaica Labour Party’s Venesha Phillips in August Town, St Andrew, on Monday.
Venesha Phillips, JLP candidate for the Papine division in St Andrew East.
Venesha Phillips, JLP candidate for the Papine division in St Andrew East.
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Tough-talking Venesha Phillips, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) candidate for the Papine division in East St Andrew, was whipped yesterday by 259 votes in the 2021 local government elections, signalling a massive blow to her ego and the JLP’s bravado with a general election on the horizon.

Phillips, who crossed the floor in 2020 to join the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) after winning the division in the 2016 local government election, was beaten 2,113 votes to her 1,854 by friend and PNP opponent Darrington Ferguson – a first-time candidate in the division.

Phillips’ loss is a massive blow following her switch to the JLP and her repeated assertion that her strength is driven by her work within the division and not by party representation. It was a sentiment her supporters held on to long into yesterday afternoon even as the two candidates overtook each other in a ding-dong battle for the division.

The JLP’s Gary Gordon won the Mona division, also in East St Andrew, with 2,823 votes in comparison to 2,375 votes secured by the PNP’s Carl Little

Meanwhile, the PNP’s Viviene Brown-Bond was also victorious in the Kintyre division in neighbouring East Rural St Andrew with 1,317 compared to 1,288 votes accumulated by the JLP’s Kevin Clarke. The JLP secured the Mavis Bank and Dallas divisions, respectively, in that constituency with a tight 1,282 by Lloyd Benjamin (JLP) versus 1,261 by Paul Meek (PNP) and 1,670 by Mario Harley (JLP) versus 1,503 by Ahkeev Black (PNP).

“After today when the counting is done, Venesha is going to win. She is not for Labourite or PNP. She works for the people,” said August Town resident Leon Perkins after casting his vote at the Escarpment Road polling station in the community. Late last night, Perkins was unreachable on his cellular phone.

Phillips, however, was graceful in her defeat, slow to ascribe blame but quick to offer congratulations to her opponent. Some of her supporters took the defeat harder than others. Some were still crying after the final verdict, she said, adding that she would have to study the numbers to determine to what extent her crossing the floor may have impacted the results of the election.

“I remain undaunted. I am really happy and proud to be a member of the Jamaica Labour Party. We are still in government, and what it means is that there is work to do and that we just need to recalibrate,” said Phillips. “Of course, I am, naturally, a little disappointed, but I am grateful because we were not decimated. So I have to congratulate Darrington Ferguson.

“His job now is to continue the work for the people of the Papine division. There were some high points and some low points, but all in all, it was a good and fun race, and we are committed to ensuring we regain the confidence of the people in those divisions that we did not keep.”

corey.robinson@gleanerjm.com