Photo courtesy of PNP: Jermaine Martin, PNP candidate for St. Andrew North West.
Published in the Jamaica Gleaner: Sunday | August 19, 2007
Howard Campbell, Sunday Gleaner Writer
HE MAY be a newcomer to politics, but the People's National Party's (PNP) Jermaine Martin says he is not on the ballot to make up numbers for North West St. Andrew.
In fact, the exuberant educator is confident he will unseat long-standing incumbent, Derrick Smith, of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). "I am going to emerge the winner. I have always been an underdog and I have no problem with that," he says. "I have always proven people wrong."
Proving pundits wrong in eight days' time may take some doing for Martin, the 33-year-old principal of the Institute of Academic Excellence (IAE), in St. Andrew.
Smith has been Member of Parliament for North West St. Andrew since 1989, and is generally credited as a solid performer. That, Martin countered, is nothing but perception. "Mr. Smith is what you call a missing MP. He has not been seen by many of the constituents. They see him as a TV man who has no track record," he claims.
Martin is also not daunted by Smith's dossier. In addition to being MP, Smith is a JLP deputy leader and its spokesperson on national security.
The Portland-born Martin tells The Sunday Gleaner he has been working overtime during the past 18 months to get disenchanted PNP backers in Pembroke Hall, Maverley, Patrick City, Havendale and Meadowbrook to vote on the big day.
As many of the larger con-stituencies, North West St. Andrew encompasses middle-class neigh-bourhoods such as Meadowbrook and Pembroke Hall, but areas such as Maverley, are prone to gang violence.
Martin said crime is not the only problem. "Every community has its own concerns and issues, but one thing that is common are bad roads. Nothing has been done to ensure proper infrastructure in the constituency," he lamented.