PNP selects priority constituencies, says new Region Six chairman

Observer writer

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

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SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland — Former vice-chair of the People's National Party (PNP) Region Six Donald Colomathi is the new region chairman following a selection process in Westmoreland on Sunday.

Region Six comprises the parishes of Hanover, Westmoreland and St James.

The selection took place at the Manning's School during a delegates' meeting of the regional executive council of the party.

Executive members from each constituency were also returned during the selection process.

Colomathi, who was the councillor for the Spring Mount Division of the St James Municipal Corporation for 21 years, and who unsuccessfully contested the St James East Central constituency seat on two occasions, replaces the one-term Chairman Ian Hayles, who is the Member of Parliament for Hanover Western.

Hayles, who did not seek re-election, said he will be using the time to focus on his ill mother and his constituency. He also backed the new chairman.

The Hanover Western Member of Parliament noted that while his tenure was a challenge, he has no regrets.

“I don't think we were on the same page at any given time, but that is what democracy is about. People making decisions, and we all make decisions but I think and know that if you have a united region six, nothing can stop us going forward,” Hayles said.

He said, too, that he had taken over the chairmanship from Dr D K Duncan at a time when the region “was a little bit divided”.

Under Hayles' chairmanship, the party lost ground to the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), both at the national and local government level.

In the February 25, 2016 General Election, the then ruling PNP lost three of the eight seats it had held in the region since the 2011 national polls. And, in the local government election that followed later that year, the PNP lost 20 of the 38 divisions it held prior to that election.

The 10-year veteran vice-chair, who was unanimously selected on Sunday, stated that some constituencies have been identified as priorities.

“Some are more difficult than some. None are out of bounds, but some are difficult than some,” Colomathi told members of the media.

“So what we will be doing, we will be ensuring that those constituencies, in the order of priority, concentrate on the basic things that they have to do. And, the basic things are to ensure that we continue the registration process; we have to ensure that the recruitment drive continues, because as you know, without the young there is no future,” said Colomathi, who added that political education is also on the agenda.

Reminding individuals of the party's track record and party's policies, such as land acquisition, empowering the young and the creation of economies in local communities, are some of the strategies that the region chairman said he will be using to get people who have given up on the party to get onboard.

For his part, PNP Vice-president Wykeham McNeill, who has oversight responsibility for both regions six and five, told the media that the party is ensuring all outstanding issues are cleared up, including the issue of standard-bearers.

“We have some constituencies that are strong, others that have some challenges, and others that we know we are going to hold. And so what we are doing is putting the organisation in place, putting the standard-bearers in place, clearing up all sorts of outstanding issues and making sure that going forward we can now move [with] purpose to do that political work, [enumeration, international organisation, and getting divisions and constituencies on the right track],” he said.

McNeill said in Region Five, the issue of standard-bearers has been settled

The PNP vice-president, who is the MP for Westmoreland Western, pointed out that Colomathi understands the region and brings new energy to the table that will assist in strengthening it.

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