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hope to make a difference
Evans, Staff Reporter
THE June 19 Local Government elections just four days away,
former People's National Party (PNP) and Jamaica Labour Party
(JLP) party members, now turned independent candidates, reflect
on their decisions to run as independents, and look ahead
at some of the challenges they face going into Thursday's
to Wendell Stewart, Independent candidate and former PNP Member
of Parlianent for North Trelawny, "the people have asked
me not to go into retirement, but to come back and fill the
position." This was after he had been ousted by the party
as the constituency candidate and dumped for the local polls.
Stewart sees his independence as a chance to better address
some of the issues that are affecting his division in a more
will be able to address the problems affecting this divison
more freely," he said, instead of having certain agendas
filtered down to him. While in his former party, Mr. Stewart
said, "we had to go along to get along."
to him, his campaign will speak directly to those issues and
problems that affect Falmouth itself, like sewage and drainage,
land distribution and the state of hospitals and police stations.
He also said that persons are of the impression that independent
candidates will not be able to effectively cater to their
needs and that their votes will be wasted, especially if candidates
are not affiliated to one of the two dominant political
is the notion being put forward by the two dominant political
parties," Mr. Stewart told The Sunday Gleaner in an interview
he counters, "the Jamaican Constitution caters to independent
candidates, and therefore they do not have to be alligned
to a political party."
admitting to only having limited resources, Mr. Stewart contends
that any candidate who wins, whether a member of a dominant
political party or an independent candidate, will be entitled
to whatever resources are available in the Parish Council
to run the division. Under the constitution, he said, "Independents
are entitled to all available resources once they win."
independent candidate, Knox Johnson, who is a former member
of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), says "supporters in
the Hampton Green Divisi-on feel strongly about me running
as an independent candidate," and maintains that if the
people were not in favour of him then he would stand down.
Mr. Johnson had been replaced earlier this year at a JLP selection
conference, where he said he had 40 delegates who did not
get the chance to vote.
to Mr. Johnson, he is now on a mission to save Spanish Town,
"the forgotten city", as Members of Parliament have
not been investing money into it.
Johnson said he had previously had the help of the Parish
Council who gave him support in doing drains, and the resurfacing
and rehabilitation of roads. Right now, he said, "my
resources will come from well-thinking people, friends and
candidate Howard Charvis, who is also a former member of the
JLP, says he was forced to run as an independent candidate
because of some personal differences between himself and the
Member of Parliament for that constituency.
I feel that injustice was meted out to me by my former party,"
he told The Sunday Gleaner in a telephone interview on Thursday.
Mr. Charvis, who describes himself as an "independent
JLP candidate", said he was encouraged to contest the
seat as an independent, by persons who had voted him in as
JLP Councillor in the last elections and other administrative
persons with whom he had worked. Mr. Charvis says that he
has the support of the people within his division, and that
is why he is running.
remains confident of his chances, and remains hopeful that
all the necessary resources needed will come straight from
the Parish Council, as he had been serving the St. Catherine
constituency well as JLP councillor for some time now.
total of 21 independent candidates will be vying for a position
in this year's Local Government Elections, down from 27 independents
who contested in 1998.
the independents contending in this year's elections are former
PNP Member of Parliament for North Trelawny, Wendell Stewart,
and Robert Stewart of the Port Maria division.
former JLP councillors also entered the race as independents,
and they are; Howard Charvis, Homestead diviison; Knox Johnson,
Hampton Green division; Lloyd Ebanks, Linstead division in
St. Catherine; Leroy Gray, Maroon Town division in St. James;
Lilieth Richards, Gibraltar division; and Sherman Harris,
Brown's Town division in St. Ann.