Letters to the Editor

Saying goodbye to the politics of yesteryear

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

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Dear Editor,

Ann-Marie Vaz's historic win in Portland Eastern's by-election on April 4, 2019 sent a powerful message about the political pulse and consciousness of today's electorate.

As a young person who has been politically insouciant for quite some time, largely due to the divisive, corrupt, and nepotist character of politics in this country, I must confess that I waited with bated breath for the denouement of a much-anticipated by-election that would eventually register a higher voter turnout than that of the 2016 General Election.

I was particularly impressed by the campaign run by Vaz for a number of reasons. For starters, a self-professed “people-tician”, she made concerted efforts to consistently engage and connect with the people of Portland Eastern in a way that appeared to be truly authentic. Reports indicate that she went door to door, scoured every nook and cranny of the constituency, and was genuinely interested in listening to the concerns of the people she wished to serve.

Then there was the fact of her solid track record of consistent work in the constituency, particularly in regard to education and infrastructural development, to which a number of residents have said they can attest long before a by-election was ever contemplated there. This spoke volumes for me, as well as quite a number of people she engaged with on social media about the sincerity of her stated intention to chart a course for the development and prosperity of the constituency.

But what was most impressive about Vaz was her laser-like focus on the issues that mattered, as well as the grace and equanimity she displayed throughout her campaign, even in the face of strong pushback from some quarters. Quite admirably, she kept her eyes firmly fixed on the prize and never once dignified the disparaging and petulant comments of her opponent with a response. She was, indeed, a class act in every important respect.

If nothing else, the outcome of the Portland Eastern by-election, and certainly that of the 2016 General Election, signifies a disruption of the political status quo and an incremental — through no less significant — break from the past.

Thankfully, people no longer seem to be voting solely based on blind loyalty to any particular political party owing to family or community tradition. They now seem to be thinking for themselves. Now, more than ever before, people seem to be intent on seeing politicians walk the walk beyond the campaign trail, and are more willing to take them to task should they fail/refuse to do so. This disruption of the political status quo is a long overdue and extremely welcome development, and it makes me very hopeful about Jamaica's political future.

Amanda Quest


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