Keen battle expected today in Greater Portmore by-election

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Jamaica – AHEAD of today’s by-election to fill the vacancy left by the death of People’s National Party (PNP) Councillor Michael “Fisher” Edwards in the Greater Portmore North Division, candidates representing the two main political parties are expressing confidence regarding victory.
Edwards, who died from a stroke on January 9, represented the division in the Portmore Municipal Council since December 2007.
He was returned for a third term on November 28 last year when he defeated the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) Ann Marie Lewis, polling 1,628 votes to Lewis’ 919 votes.
This time around, Lewis, a teacher, is insisting that she will not be sent packing into political retirement.
“I live in the division. I’m a teacher by profession, a Christian, and a family person. I’ve seen things lacking in the division and the previous councillor got nothing done,” Lewis told the Jamaica Observer as she sought audience with the 10, 472 residents eligible to vote in the division.
Among the things she is proposing to do, is to restart the neighbourhood watch programme across the division, which she said is being plagued by robberies.
“I also want to see to the installation of street lights and ensure fogging is done to eradicate mosquitoes. I also want to ensure that there is frequent garbage collection because we have been having that problem. Not only that, but I want to ensure that there is consistent drain cleaning and maintenance,” she shared.
Lewis also mentioned the need for homework centres, something she said she will be pushing for “when elected”.
“I am very confident. I have the support of my team members from the party and we care. You know once we care, everybody will come together as one and the work will get done,” she told the Observer.
The JLP candidate said that she has been busy conducting house-to-house visits and mobilising voters in an effort to become the third JLP councillor in the 12-seat municipal council.
At the same time, accountant and PNP candidate Gary Nicholson is seeking to pick up where his colleague left off, albeit untimely, articulating that his party is well on its way to retaining the division.
“Traditionally, we are an organised party, and that has not changed. We have put things in place and we are 95 per cent ready. The remaining five per cent would be what is to be done on Monday,” Nicholson said, noting that he is not “overly confident but confident”.
The councillor candidate said that despite the division being a “traditional” one for his party, he has still done what is required of him. He said that he has met with voters and is now just hoping that democracy will prevail.
“Residents should vote because of the track record that has been laid and set by the People’s National Party, and I am one who will continue with the progress that has been made. My vision is to grow the communities within the division,” he said.
Nicholson added that he has categorised residents into three groups, based on their needs. He said that those in the lower class are seeking representation in terms of proper roads, water and electricity. The middle class communities, he said, are desirous of the maintenance of open spaces and more recreational areas, while he summed that the youth are in need of jobs.
“I do not have an establishment so I can’t promise them jobs, but I am encouraging them to empower themselves through education. Some can acquire a skill and I’m encouraging them to do that so that when the opportunity comes we can recommend them.
“Those are some of the things I have planned and I think the voters will support me on this.”
On Friday, Director of Elections Orrette Fisher told the Observer that there were no concerns ahead of the election and that all is in place.
It will cost taxpayers $7 million.

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