KINGSTON, Jamaica, Mar 4, CMC – The main opposition People’s National Party (PNP) says it remains confident of regaining the East Portland seat in the Parliament as it launched its campaign for the March 26 by-election here on Sunday night.
The seat became vacant following the murder of Dr Lynvale Bloomfield, whose body with several stab wounds had been found at his home on February 2.
Police have since charged 20-year-old Simeon Sutherland in connection with the murder, after initially taking him into custody and releasing him last month.
The PNP has named Damion Crawford, as its candidate for the by-election. He is being challenged by Ann-Marie Vaz, the wife of Douglas Vaz, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, whom the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has named as its candidate.
Crawford, who has a Rastafarian hairstyle, told supporters that the poll could also descend into a class war and that he does not intend to cut his hair in order to win.
“East Portland people say they want tourism. I have a (Bachelor’s) degree in tourism, I have a Master’s in tourism, I lecture tourism, and yet still because of her class and her colour, some people say this lady is more qualified than me,” Crawford said at the PNP rally in Port Antonio, on the island’s north-eastern coast .
The PNP vice-president told supporters “if this lady beat me, it will be a travesty!”
The JLP, which won the 2016 general election by a 32-31 margin over then incumbent PNP, has since won two of three by-elections held last year, giving it a more comfortable three seat margin in the Parliament.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, addressing JLP supporters at a rally in Port Antonio on Friday, said that Nomination Day will be March 8 coinciding with International Women’s Day.
“This will be a peaceful election. It will be an efficiently run election,” Holness said, adding said he was confident Vaz would be victorious.
“I’m sure that Action Ann is committed. I’m sure that Action Ann respects the people”.
Vaz said the government would continue its commitment to providing jobs in the constituency and spoke of the programmes she has already implemented.
“I’m here to solve the problems; I want the youths here to build East Portland”.