Jamaica Observer / THE colourful side of Jamaican politics will be on display today as Nomination Day activities get under way for two by-elections. The Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) Dr Nigel Clarke and Headley Wilson and the People’s National Party’s (PNP) Keisha Hayle and Jacqueline Lewis are all expected to be nominated for the March 5 by-election in the St Andrew North Western constituency and the Norman Gardens Division of the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation, respectively.
Both seats were left vacant by the departures of former Member of Parliament Derrick Smith and former Councillor Dr Angela Brown Burke. Smith, last month, retired from representational politics, while Brown Burke now represents the St Andrew South Western constituency in the House of Representatives.
Clarke serves as ambassador plenipotentiary for economic affairs and is chairman of the National Housing Trust, while Hayle is the principal of Padmore Primary School.
Additionally, Wilson was the 2016 JLP candidate in that year’s parliamentary elections, while Lewis recently retired after serving more than 20 years at Rennock Lodge All-Age School in the division.
Yesterday, general secretary of the JLP Dr Horace Chang told the Jamaica Observer that he expects a good day. Chang said that all is in place for the party’s candidates to be duly nominated.
PNP General Secretary Julian Robinson could not be reached for a comment, but the party had expressed concerns over an audit that was scheduled for today, which it said would prevent its candidate, Hayle, from being nominated.
However, yesterday, a media release from the Ministry of Education denied any intent to interfere with the day’s outcome.
“The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information is categorically refuting allegations that the ministry is trying to sabotage the People’s National Party caretaker/candidate for St Andrew North Western and principal of Padmore Primary Keisha Hayle.
“An audit officer assigned to Padmore Primary visited the institution on Friday, February 9, 2018 to do a document verification process…
“The school’s principal was not present at the time and the officer arranged to return on Monday, February 12, 2018 to meet with Ms Hayle to complete the process,” it read.
The ministry said yesterday, in light of nomination day activities and based on the gathering of sufficient data, the audit will be completed without meeting with the principal.
In the meantime, the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) said that it is prepared for the two elections.
Both by-elections are expected to cost $41 million, with $26.8 million estimated for the by-election in St Andrew North Western, while $13.9 million has been earmarked for the Norman Gardens Division.
The nomination centre will open between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm at Pembroke Hall Community Centre in St Andrew North Western, and between 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm at Windward Road Primary and Junior High School for Norman Gardens.
Candidates are required to fill out a nomination form signed by any 10 or more individuals registered to vote in St Andrew North Western; six electors or more registered to vote in the Norman Gardens Division; and pay the nomination fee of $3,000.
The law requires that nomination day be at least five clear days after the announcement of an election; and election day, a minimum of 16 and a maximum of 23 days after nomination day.
A total of 112 polling stations across 21 voting locations will be used in St Andrew North Western and 52 polling stations across 12 locations will be used in the Norman Gardens Division.
There are 13,517 registered voters in the Norman Gardens Division, and 30,216 in the St Andrew North Western constituency.