ELECTION WATCH: Wide professional mix among the candidates
Over many election cycles, many individuals have embarked on the task of balancing their careers with seeking to make in a difference in people’s lives by entering representational politics.
They achieve this initial phase after crossing the initial hurdle of being ratified by the executives of their respective political parties.
Some individuals will then cross the finish-line and ascend to the roles of Member of Parliament (MPs) by way of being elected, but some will revert to their professions or remain in the constituencies in the hope that in the next four or five years’ time, their political ambitions will be realized.
In Jamaica’s political system, dating back to 1944, so many individuals from various professional fields have been candidates for the People’s National Party (PNP) and Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
For the September 3 General Elections, that trend remains the same, as both political parties’ slates of candidates have been derived from interesting professional fields, including medicine, science, education, law, business, management, agriculture, banking and finance, as well as religion and sports.
Additionally, the professional mixes among the candidates for some constituency are also rather intriguing.
They include: two dental surgeons, Dr Fenton Ferguson (PNP) and Dr Michelle Charles (JLP), vying for East St Thomas; a pharmacist, Dr Norman Dunn (JLP), versus medical doctor, Shane Alexis (PNP) in South East St Mary.
the PNP’s Lisa Hanna, a media, marketing and public relation guru, up against the JLP’s Maxine Simpson, an educator, in South East St Ann; and veteran attorney-at-law, Delroy Chuck, versus Donald Tulloch, an actor/playwright of the PNP in North East St Andrew.
An assessment of the individuals contesting the elections shows that at least 28 businessmen/women from both parties are set to have a heavy bearing on the outcome of the polls.
Approximately 18 attorneys, 12 medical professionals, including dental surgeons and medical doctors, and 13 educators are among the candidates.
In addition, other candidates, including incumbent parliamentarians, with backgrounds in banking and finance, agriculture and marketing and communications, are on the journey to become or continue being the people’s choice in their respective constituencies.
Among the businessmen for the JLP is Dr Nigel Clarke. Before becoming Jamaica’s Minister of Finance and Member of Parliament (MP) of North West St Andrew, Clarke served as a director for several public and private sector economic enterprises.
According to his profile on the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) website, Clarke served as “vice chairman of the Musson Group, where, over 15 years, he played an integral executive leadership role in the expansion of the group from a base in Jamaica to having subsidiaries in over 30 countries.”
In Clarke’s private sector career, JIS said “he has been chairman, vice chairman or director of many companies listed on the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE), and his private sector experience spans broad areas of the economy, including manufacturing, distribution, consumer goods, telecom services, agriculture, food processing, banking, insurance, property development among other areas.”
In relation to the public sector, the first-term MP has previously served as Ambassador of Economic Affairs, where he represented Jamaica’s interests with multilateral institutions, director of the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) and other roles.
Former Olympian Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, the MP for West Rural St Andrew, brands herself as a fitness guru, and is an entrepreneur who is a fitness trainer and gym operator. She is also a radio and television sport analyst, and has experience in the field of marketing.
Karl Samuda, the North Central St Andrew MP, in addition to being a businessman, is also a farmer and a technocrat, but is best known as a veteran politician.
Other businessmen heading into the elections as incumbents are: Dave Brown, East Hanover MP; Daryl Vaz, MP for West Portland; Heroy Clarke of Central St James; James Robertson, West Thomas MP; Everald Warmington of South West St Catherine; and Frank Witter, South East St Elizabeth MP.
In the elections, several individuals working as businessmen/entrepreneurs will start as caretakers/candidates on a JLP ticket. They are: Phillip Henriques – North West Clarendon; Dorlan Francis – West St Andrew; Delroy Slowley – North East St Elizabeth; and Homer Davis – Southern St James.
Notably, Krystal Lee, the JLP candidate/caretaker in North West St Ann, is a businesswoman and also Councillor for the Retreat Division in West St Mary.
Among the sitting PNP parliamentarians who are businessmen/entrepreneurs are: Richard Azan – North West Clarendon; Ian Hayles – West Hanover; Mikael Phillips – North West Manchester; Fitz Jackson – South St Catherine; and Dwayne Vaz – Central Westmoreland.
Denise Daley, a two-term MP for East St Catherine, is a businesswoman and educator who owns and operates the St Dominic Preparatory and Business College in the parish. Prior to representational politics at the national level, she served as Councillor for the Linstead Division for more than 25 years. Daley, also a paralegal, was also a former Deputy Mayor of Spanish Town.
Several PNP contenders, who also have a background in business and entrepreneurship, will be seeking to become parliamentary representatives by upsetting their JLP counterparts. Among them are: Valenton Wint – South West St Ann; Rohan Banks – North West St Andrew; Hugh Graham – North West St Catherine; Ryan Keating – North West St Elizabeth; Ewan Stephenson – South West St Elizabeth; and Basil Waite – North East St Elizabeth.
Andre Hylton, an entrepreneur, automotive specialist and operator of Andre’s Auto Supplies, is set to contest the Central St James seat, while Patrick Roberts, businessman and President and CEO of Shocking Vibes Production, is the candidate/caretaker for West Central St Andrew, where he is again expected to trail behind Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
Veteran Central Clarendon MP, Mike Henry, while also collectively among the business persons and entrepreneurs as candidates, is perhaps the only noted publisher among the entire lot. Henry is the head honcho of LMH Publishing, a long-established Kingston-based local, regional and international publishing house.
In relation to the legal fraternity, several notable names are now on the campaign trail for the elections.
Marlene Mahaloo-Forte, MP for West Central St James and the country’s Attorney General, has had a noted legal career at both bars (public and private). She is a former senior prosecutor in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), and later served as a resident magistrate. She has also been appointed as a Queen’s Counsel (QC).
Other sitting parliamentary representatives who are attorneys are: Zavia Mayne – South West St Ann; Pearnel Charles Jnr – South East Clarendon; Delroy Chuck – North East St Andrew; Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert – South Trelawny; Alando Terrelonge – East Central St Catherine; and Floyd Green – South West St Elizabeth.
Several JLP caretakers are also members of the legal fraternity. This batch of attorneys include: Dwight Sibblies – North Clarendon; Kent Gammon – South West Clarendon; Tamika Davis – West Hanover; and Senator Tova Hamilton – North Trelawny.
The Opposition PNP has several notable attorneys among their slates of candidates contesting the elections. Most notable among their cadre of lawyers are Queen’s Counsel Valerie Neita-Robertson, the caretaker for West Portland. She has distinguished herself with over 40 years working at the Criminal Law Bar in Jamaica. In addition, she is no stranger to representational politics, as she was elected Councillor for the August Town Division of East St Andrew for the PNP in 1986.
Since serving as a councillor, Neita-Robertson also served the party in the capacity of legal advisor and member of the campaign team and, in some instances, campaign manager for some constituencies.
Another prominent attorney, noted for his stellar work at the Criminal Law Bar, is set to represent the PNP in North East St Catherine. He is Oswest Senior-Smith, who is returning to representational politics almost 13 years after losing to the JLP’s Shahine Robinson in North East St Ann.
The PNP’s Mark Golding, the MP for South St Andrew since 2017 and Opposition Spokesperson for Finance and Planning, is a leading commercial attorney-at-law and a partner in the law firm, Hart Muirhead Fatta, where he specialises in capital markets, corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions.
Interestingly, Golding is also known for his work in the world of finance, as he was a founding shareholder and director of Dehring, Bunting and Golding (DB&G) in 1993, and a founding shareholder and director of Proven Management Limited in 2010.
The other PNP members of the Private Bar are: G Anthony Hylton, MP of West St Andrew; Phillip Paulwell, MP of East Kingston and Port Royal; Ronald Thwaites, the present MP for Central Kingston; and Robert Pickersgill, MP of North West St Catherine. However, both Thwaites and Pickersgill will not be seeking re-election as they are retiring from representational politics.
Fascinatingly, medical doctor, Dayton Campbell, is also the holder of a law degree, but is not a practising attorney.
But a number of other lawyers have been selected as caretakers by the Dr Peter Phillips-led Opposition. They are: Zulieka Jess – Central Clarendon; Lothan Cousins – South West Clarendon; and Michael Hemmings in East Central St James.
Amid the wide cross-section of entrepreneurs and attorneys representing both political parties, the cadre of medical professionals seeking to enter representational politics has already been duly confirmed by the executives of their respective parties.
A member of the JLP executive himself, Horace Chang, who is the party’s general secretary, is a medical doctor. According to his profile crafted by the JIS, he has served in “both the public and private sectors, where he made significant contributions in the development of a modern public health system for Jamaicans.”
Dr Norman Dunn, the JLP’s candidate and current MP for South East St Mary, holds a Doctor of Pharmacy Degree, Master of Science in Industrial Business and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Management, Economics and Accounting. He is the owner of several successful pharmacies across the island.
The other medical professional to represent the JLP is Michelle Charles, a dental surgeon and caretaker for East St Thomas. She will be hoping to defeat Dr Fenton Ferguson, also a dental surgeon by profession, who will be seeking his seventh-term as Member of Parliament.
Also within the Opposition, the man who is expected to challenge Dr Dunn for the South East St Mary seat is a medical doctor. He is Shane Alexis, who is a former President of the Medical Association of Jamaica (MAJ).
Also in St Mary, another doctor, Morais Guy, is set to seek his fifth term as constituency representative for Central St Mary. He runs a private medical practice in Highgate, one of the popular towns located within the constituency.
In Western Jamaica, Wykeham McNeill, a medical doctor by profession, is the sitting MP for Western Westmoreland.
Other medical doctors lining up for the PNP as candidates/caretakers are: Desmond Brenan – North Central Clarendon; Dwaine Spencer – South East St Elizabeth and Kurt Waul – South West St Catherine.
Dr Jason Stanford, the PNP’s candidate in West St Mary, is a clinician, educator and scientist, while the incumbent JLP parliamentarian for South Central St Catherine, Dr Andrew Wheatley, is a scientist and university lecturer.
Overtime, educators, whether teachers, principals or administrators, have opted to leave the classrooms or their offices in their quests to serve their country in a new dispensation as politicians.
Rhoda Moy Crawford, the JLP’s candidate/caretaker for Central Manchester, is an educator, literacy specialist and an outgoing director at HEART Trust/NTA.
Another educator running on the ruling party’s ticket in North East St Catherine is Kerensia Morrison, who is presently a Government Senator and communications specialist. During her time actively involved in education, she was a teacher of language and literature at St Jago High School in Spanish Town.
Robert ‘Big Rob’ Miller is another educator hoping to become a first-time MP for South East Catherine. In addition to being an educator, Miller is a marketer, trainer, consultant and motivational speaker, according to his Twitter account.
Latecomer, Maxine Simpson, is also an educator on the JLP’s ticket for South East St Ann, having been an almost last minute replacement for Dr Ryan Simpson (said to be a relative) after the latter, a minister of religion, reportedly violated the national COVID-19 protocol and was ousted by the party.
The Opposition has presented a good line-up of former and outgoing educational stalwarts to contest seats on its behalf in the general elections. Among that list is former Principal of Wolmer’s Boys’ School and Anchovy High, Dr Walton Small, who is the new representative for the PNP in South St James, this after the incumbent, Derrick Kellier, indicated that he will not be seeking another term as MP.
Small is also a former President of the Inter-Secondary Schools’ Sports Association (ISSA).
Former Principal of Porus High School, Michael Stewart, is the current MP for South Manchester, and will be seeking re-election for a second term come September 3.
Other sitting MPs who have professional backgrounds as teachers are: Horace Dalley – North Clarendon, and Luther Buchanan – East Westmoreland.
In other aspects of education and academia, Opposition Leader and PNP President, Dr Peter Phillips, has had a career spanning academia, politics and government. In his teaching career, which was prior to his entry into politics as a parliamentarian, Phillips was a lecturer in the Department of Government and at the Consortium Graduate School at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus. During that time he also published extensively on Caribbean development issues.
West Central St James caretaker, Dr Andre Haughton of the PNP, is a UWI lecturer and economist.
Dr Christopher Tufton, the incumbent MP for West Central St Catherine, has, in the past, lectured and conducted business consultancy in Jamaica, the United Kingdom and the USA, in a number of areas, including International Marketing, Business Strategy and Entrepreneurship, according to his profile on JIS.
By profession, he is a business strategist, whose expertise includes international business and marketing strategy, specialising in foreign direct investment facilitation and the impact of public policy on industry.
Having been in the banking and finance and, by extension, the business management sectors for several years, some individuals have made that transition into representational politics, whether as parliamentarians or candidates.
Peter Bunting, considered to be the heir apparent to the leadership of the PNP by some political analysts, is an investment banker, and has built his reputation in the financial sector as a co-founder of one of Jamaica’s most innovative and successful financial institutions – Dehring , Bunting & Golding Limited (DB&G). He also co-founded Proven Investments Limited.
Candidate/Caretaker for Central Kingston, Imani Duncan-Price, a former Senator and currently Chief of Staff in the Office of the Leader of Opposition, has held several prominent positions in business management. She has been a group strategy officer for the family-founded Jamaica Money Market Brokers (JMMB) group – a leading Caribbean financial services group. She has also held other managerial positions within JMMB. In addition, she is a co-founder and co-executive director of the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI).
Duncan-Price’s sister, Patricia Duncan-Sutherland, is a former Manager of Operations and Human Resources at the JMMB Group, as well as an Executive Director of Business Operations within the same group. She has also held other managerial positions within several other corporate entities.
Duncan-Sutherland is the PNP’s candidate in the South East Clarendon constituency.
In the wider analysis, both sisters are the daughters of retired veteran politician, Dr Donald Keith (DK) Duncan, who served as MP for East Hanover between 2007 and 2016 in his second round of representational politics.
Julian Robinson, the PNP candidate for South East St Andrew and present MP, was a former management and e-business consultant in London, UK, where he worked for international firms, IB and Scient. He was a former JAMPRO Manager for Investment and Promotion.
In relation to the finance professionals within the candidacy of the governing JLP, Fayval Williams, the MP of East St Andrew, comes to mind. She is a chartered financial analyst (CFA) by profession, and the former Executive Director of Kingston Properties Limited.
Prior to Kingston Properties, Williams served as Chief Investment Officer of JMMB Limited from March, 2005 to September, 2007, with investment responsibilities spanning the trading department, investment research, and pensions. She has also held other prominent roles in the company.
During a career overseas, she worked with a number of prominent companies in the area of investments, including Putnam Investments in Boston, a top-10 global mutual fund manager. While there, Williams was a Senior Vice President, prior to her return to Jamaica.
East Rural St Andrew MP, Juliet Holness is a chartered accountant and real estate developer by profession. Of course, she is married to Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who can be described as a career politician.
The JLP leader, who is also the parliamentary representative for West Central St Andrew, has a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Studies and a Master of Science degree in Development Studies from UWI (Mona Campus).
He has been a politician since 1997, and since his party has held Government, he first held the position of Education Minister. He then went on to become Prime Minister and JLP leader following the resignation of Bruce Golding.
A feature of representational politics in Jamaica is the several individuals from the marketing and communications field who have opted to enter the political realm. This election cycle will be no different.
Robert Nesta Morgan is a communications specialist who was integral to the last JLP campaign. He is now running on the party ticket in North Central Clarendon. Previously, he was a teacher at his alma mater, Clarendon College. Morgan has also had stints in media from August 2006 to June 2010, including: assistant Producer -NewsTalk 93 FM; producer at CVM TV; and producer/reporter at RJR Communications Group.
In the current Holness Administration, Morgan serves as a Senator and Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM). He has also served as Director of Communications and Public Affairs in the OPM. Interestingly, Morgan is the holder of a law degree.
Within the PNP, current MP for South East St Ann, Lisa Hanna has worked in media, marketing and public relations, both locally and internationally. She is also the former host of popular television programme for youth, ‘Raping’, in the 1990s.
Krystal Tomlinson describes herself as an accomplished communicator and author. She too, has been the host of several television and radio programmes for various media companies. Presently, Tomlinson is on the campaign trail in West Rural St Andrew, with hopes of becoming the next MP there.
In relation to candidates with marketing backgrounds, Edmund Bartlett, Tourism Minister and MP for East Central St James, has worked at the senior management level in the areas of marketing and sales as well as accounting for major multi-national companies operating in Jamaica, prior to entering elective politics. He has also worked extensively within tourism, and has given over 35-years of service to the country, both in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Audley Shaw, prior to entering representational politics in 1987, joined the Chicago Office of Burson-Marseller (a Public Relations Consultancy firm) in 1981 as Client Executive, and then joined the Jamaica National Investment Promotion Limited (JNIP), later named JAMPRO and now renamed Jamaica Trade and Invest, as Director for Public Relations and Advertising.
Between 1983 and 1986, Shaw was responsible for JNIP’s marketing and overseas offices. Shaw later resigned his position with Government and became a merchant and marketing consultant.
There are candidates from within both political units who possess experience working within the Public Sector. The JLP candidate for North Central St Catherine, Natalie Campbell-Rodriques, is a development specialist by profession, who once held the position of Community Relations Attaché at the Jamaican Embassy in Washington DC.
Colin Fagan, the MP for South East St Catherine, also worked at the Social Development Commission (SDC) in various capacities, including technical supervisor. He has also been a Treasurer Manager for the Jamaica Welfare Co-Operative Credit Union.
In the agriculture-related fields, Robert Montague, West St Mary MP, is an agronomist, while JC Hutchinson, MP for North West St Elizabeth, is a farmer and businessman in his professional life outside of representational politics.
The PNP’s Victor Wright is an agronomist, soil scientist, businessman and the parliamentary representative for North Trelawny.
Ministers of religion representing both major political parties are set to square off with other professionals in the polls.
Bishop Dr Purcell Jackson, the PNP candidate for West Portland, serves the God’s Way Assembly Ministries in Kingston, and Dr Ryan Simpson, the JLP candidate for South East St Ann up to earlier this week, before being bumped as a result of a reported COVID-19 protocol breach, served the Seventh Day Adventist Church for over 17 years as both as a church pastor and as departmental director in several capacities in Jamaica, Bermuda and the USA.
Delroy R Dobney is a lay preacher and President of the National Neighbourhood Watch, as well as the JLP caretaker/candidate for South Catherine.
In the arena of culture and the arts, Olivia Grange has had a long career as a cultural activist, working at the grassroots level in developing and managing talent. She is an artist, director, event planner and an ardent supporter and promoter of Jamaica’s creative and cultural industries. Grange has served as the MP for Central St Catherine.
The PNP’s representative in North East St Andrew, David Tulloch, has an entertainment career spanning almost 27 years as an all-rounder in the performing arts, with roles as an actor and playwright. He also has experience in sales and marketing management.
Overtime too, individuals from the sporting arena have stepped into politics. Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn made that leap in 2016, and in the present election campaign, former West Indies cricketer, Wavell Hinds, has his eyes set on claiming East Hanover for the PNP.
Hinds is currently the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the West Indies Players’ Association (WIPA), the exclusive representative and bargaining agent for regional cricketers who have been selected for their territorial teams and the West Indies cricket team.
Notable, Victor Hyde, sports administer/co-ordinator and businessman, has been on the JLP ticket in the PNP stronghold of South West St Andrew, both in the 2016 General Elections and in the 2017 by-elections in the constituency after the retirement of then Member of Parliament, Portia Simpson Miller.
Former members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) have also stepped into the political sphere. Newton Amos, a retired senior superintendent of police, will attempt, for the second time, to become the people’s representative in North West St Catherine. He lost his bid in the 2016 elections to veteran politician, Robert ‘Bobby’ Pickersgill.
Dave Brown, a police officer for over 10 years, has his sights set on becoming a second-term JLP MP for East Hanover.
Of note, there are some upcoming candidates and incumbent parliamentarians who have served as former Mayors, or still wear that title.
Homer Davis is currently the Mayor of Montego Bay as well as Councillor of the Cambridge Division in Southern St James, which he is again making a bid for.
Current West Kingston MP, Desmond McKenzie, one of Jamaica’s longest serving career politicians, is a former Mayor of Kingston, having served in that capacity between 2003 and 2011. His career in the local government fraternity began as Councillor for the Denham Town Division in 1997, through to 1984, and the Tivoli Gardens Division between 1990 and 2011.
Dr Angela Brown-Burke was Mayor of Kingston between 2012 and 2016. She served as Councillor for the Norman Gardens division, before winning the South West St Andrew constituency in a 2017 by-election following the retirement of former PNP President, Portia Simpson Miller.
Robert Montague also served as Mayor of Port Maria, St Mary between 2003 and 2007, while Dr Andrew Wheatley is another parliamentarian who has served in the capacity of mayor. He was the Mayor of Spanish Town between 2007 and 2011.
In retrospect, the candidacy of both political parties has a wide pool of professionals, which add quality to the pool of selections for constituents, ranging from entrepreneurs, a former judge, a Queen’s Counsel, prominent attorneys, medical doctors, educators, scientists, business executives, ministers of religion, marketing and communications professionals, former sporting greats, and career politicians
The professional mix for the next general elections is, therefore, wide, unique and fascinating with individuals from various backgrounds squaring off against each order for the race to Gordon House.