Feted and announced as the caretaker and dark horse in the East Portland constituency, Ann-Marie Vaz and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) seek to wrest the reigns from Member of Parliament, Lynvale Bloomfield of the People’s National Party (PNP).
With the JLP having lost the race in 2016 by more than 2,000 votes, the introduction of Mrs. Vaz was seemingly no sleight of hand by the JLP as Ann-Marie is widely popular in the parish. That’s a fact the JLP has taken into account in a move consolidate their attempt a second term in office, come the next election.
Having secured the seat for the last two general elections, Bloomfield’s reign has been hotly contested multiple times, with some PNP delegates unsatisfied with his ‘particular style of leadership’.
Now in 2018, it would seem that the JLP has selected the services of another ‘home-grown’ Portlander in the hopes of finally ousting the PNP from the seat and return East Portland to its former days under JLP rule.
This may be a tough challenge for Vaz as historically, East Portland has been within the reigns of the PNP for much of post-Independent Jamaica – with the only two upsets coming from JLP’s Kenneth Jones in a 1962 and Anthony Abrahams in 1980. The seat has returned to the PNP 10 times in the last 16 general elections.
Since her introduction at a massive JLP rally on Sunday, September 9, #ActionAnn, as she calls herself has truly hit the ground running, as would be expected for a candidate seeking to upset the political status quo – but the question on many minds is ‘Will she have the stamina to endure until the finish line’?
For her part, Mrs. Vaz has sought to use women’s rights, education and tourism opportunities for the residents of the parish as her calling card to rally support in the direction of the JLP. Its early days yet but, it seems to be working.
Already, Vaz kept a promise to children affected by a fire – making sure all texts and essentials needed for school were provided just a day after the blaze in Islington, Priestman’s River.
“Together we can build a partnership here in East Portland, where residents can rise above the challenges. I am here to serve the people who are in dire need for quality leadership and representation,” she said at her introductory rally.
By Franklin McKnight