A number of Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) supporters in the North East St Catherine constituency are demanding that party leader Andrew Holness replace Leslie Campbell with a representative from inside the constituency.
The Labourites, most of whom are senior party workers in the constituency, say they will not accept the imposition of any outside candidate, after they got word that Prime Minister Andrew Holness is expected to present Senator Kerensia Morrison as the new standard-bearer to contest the upcoming general election.
Morrison was appointed to the Senate in 2016 by Holness after two unsuccessful attempts at representing the party at the municipal and constituency levels, losing to Patricia Harris in the last local government elections, and to Natalie Neita-Headley in the 2016 general election.
Veniel Bryan, a long-time party activist in the constituency, said the supporters are hopping mad regarding the impending replacement.
“We just hear that this woman is coming, nobody even seek to find out from us who we want, so we are putting the party on notice that living hell will break loose if we don’t get who we want,” Bryan told The Gleaner.
He continued: “North East St Catherine is like getting a visa to go to the US, where over the years candidates come in, build themselves up and leave without addressing the concerns of the people.”
Bryan said the majority of the people want Sharon Hay-Webster, a former People’s National Party representative who defeated the JLP in 2007, to be the standard-bearer for the constituency.
“This will not work this time, we are tired of people from outside coming to represent us,” said Kerneal Parker, a party worker in the Troja division of the constituency.
“For the past 30 years or so since I have been supporting the party here, I have seen where people just come from outside and left us without addressing the problems in the constituency, it will not happen this time,” he declared.
“The majority of us in this division prefer to work with Mr Campbell than someone from outside,” Parker stated.
PEOPLE WANT MORE
Meanwhile, Campbell told The Gleaner that his ouster as the party representative came as a result of the people wanting more than what he could reasonably offered.
“Nobody sought to balance the thing out. Supporters of mine were constantly complaining about the water problems and bad roads, two areas that we have made significant investments in over the four and half years that I have been member of parliament, but complete rehabilitation simply could not be achieved in four years,” Campbell said, adding that some $200 million was spent on improving the water supply and over $80 million to improve the Berwick to Riversdale road and some other farm roads in the constituency.
“I suspect that the complaints got to the powers that be and they got the impression that I was not working, so the selection committee of the party made their decision,” he continued.
Campbell said he will not interfere in the selection process, but will give his support to his successor.
“The selection committee of the party has the responsibility to put whomever they want in the seat. What I will say is that I am prepared to assist whomever is chosen, whether it be Senator Morrison or someone else,” he said.
Results of a recent internal poll in the constituency has revealed that the People’s National Party candidate Oswest Senior Smith has a three percentage lead over Campbell, who won the seat for the JLP in 2016 by 122 votes.