The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), through candidate Ann Marie Vaz continues to make positive gains in its campaign in East Portland, with Manchoniel being the first stop earlier this week for the political neophyte.
Vaz, who was speaking at a mass rally in the growing community on Sunday, March 10, introduced herself as a proud country girl – a candidate more in tune with the needs of the people of East Portland.
“When I stand here in Manchioneal or Fairy Hill, or Prospect, or Port Antonio and Fellowship… Guess what? I feel right at home, because I am proud of my roots,” Vaz began.
“I am a proud Jamaican, but on top of being a proud Jamaican, I am proud country girl. I am proud of the values, I am proud of the morals, I am proud of the dignity that I carry myself with,” she added.
Joined by several heavy-hitters in the the JLP, including campaign manager Juliet Holness, as well as Audely Shaw, Dr. Nigel Clarke, James Robertson, Robert Montague, and husband Daryl Vaz – the Manchoniel rally signaled the growing intent by the ‘Labourites’ to rescue East Portland from the throes of underdevelopment and blight.
At Sunday’s rally, Mrs. Vaz noted that the love she feels for East Portland is what pushes her to campaign, as the constituency and its people have suffered under 30 years of “missed opportunities, missed progress and misery”.
According to her, the time has come for East Portland to join the rest of the country on the cusp of economic development, job creation and prosperity – all within reach if voters choose her as the next Member of Parliament.
“I don’t come here to pretend to be who I am not; I am not about the hype – I come here to be me. This likkle girl that come from a district just like any of the districts in Manchoniel, who had a dream for a better life,” Vaz explained.
“Me, Action Ann, mi nah look nutn fi myself, mi ah look fi unno. My mission in this life is that my hands going to be behind me to bring everyone up to my level. There is plenty room at the top, my people. And guess what? Time come!” she said.
The battle for the future of East Portland began in earnest after the brutal killing of former MP, Dr. Lynvale Bloomfield in February.
Should Mrs. Vaz come away with the win in April, it would be the first time in nearly forty years that the JLP would return to power in East Portland.
A more historic achievement with Vaz’s win would cement her as the first woman to ever claim the seat since Universal Adult Suffrage was established in 1944.
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.