Tuesday 24 November, 2020

PNP vetting new candidates for East Portland as Crawford steps down

Damion Crawford on a political stage during last year's by-election in East Portland.

Damion Crawford on a political stage during last year's by-election in East Portland.

The Opposition People's National Party (PNP) says it is now vetting a number of persons who have expressed interest in representing the party in East Portland following the resignation of its caretaker/candidate for the constituency, Damion Crawford.

This was revealed on Sunday by PNP's General Secretary, Julian Robinson, during a press conference after the party's candidates' retreat at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) in St Andrew.

Robinson said the party is aware that the East Portland constituency is a critical seat, and will be moving quickly to identify a new candidate. However, he did not give a timeline for the installation of that candidate.

"We have started the process. There are a couple of persons who have expressed interest and we will be moving quickly to fill that vacancy, but that wasn't a long established vacancy; that's something that came up recently...," Robinson explained.

While not giving the names of those who have expressed interest in being the party's representative in East Portland, Robinson described them as mostly "good candidates".

"We believe some of the persons who have expressed an interest are good candidates; good prospects, and we will shortly be finalising someone... We don't know what the timetable is, but you want somebody to have enough time to cover the ground, to build relationships, (and) to know the constituency (ahead of the next general elections)," Robinson said.

The general secretary acknowledged that a number of persons in the constituency were disappointed with Crawford's decision to step aside from the seat, but Robinson assured that a candidate will be put in place to "adequately represent" them.

"Yes, I know there will be disappointment that Damion is no longer there, but I'm happy that we will find someone who can adequately represent the interests of the people in East Portland," he stated.

Crawford, who remains a PNP vice-president, was parachuted into the East Portland constituency to contest the April 4 by-election following the stabbing death of the former Member of Parliament, Dr Lynvale Broomfield, in February of last year.

Despite losing the seat to the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) Ann-Marie Vaz in the hotly contested by-election, Crawford vowed to remain as the caretaker/candidate for the PNP.

However, last Thursday it became clear that Crawford's vow to remain in the seat was uncertain, as during a radio interview, he said he wanted to resign from his position as a party shadow spokesperson for personal financial reasons, and the same was applicable to the caretaker position.

Crawford, in the radio interview, said that participating in representational politics, especially in East Portland, had affected his business. He further stated that he wanted to step aside from the seat to focus on rebuilding his business ventures. 

Crawford said his position had nothing to do with the reappointment of Dr Dayton Campbell to the PNP Shadow Cabinet, as was being bandied about.

According to reports, there was discontent within the ranks of the PNP after the party leader, Dr Peter Phillips, reappointed Campbell to the Shadow Cabinet last Tuesday.

Crawford was said to have been numbered among those who had threatened to step away from the party because of the reappointment, as they reportedly felt that Campbell had been too disrespectful to Phillips during last year’s internal party leadership election in which Phillips narrowly defeated Peter Bunting for the top post.

Crawford, however, in the radio interview, said he remained committed to the party, as he had not resigned when Phillips, after the leadership victory, appointed Bunting and another key supporter of Bunting, Mark Golding, to the Shadow Cabinet.

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