BLACK RIVER, St Elizabeth — Educator Miranda Wellington has gotten the nod as the Opposition People’s National Party’s representative in St Elizabeth South Western as the party intensifies its selection of standard-bearers in preparation for the next parliamentary election.
“I was ratified yesterday [Sunday] but we will be doing a formal presentation ceremony on August 20 in Black River,” Wellington told the Jamaica Observer by telephone on Monday.
The educator was confirmed as the party’s representative in the constituency at Sunday’s meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC).
Physiotherapist Matthew Parchment and Alwayne Jackson, formerly of BOJ TV, had expressed interest in the seat.
St Elizabeth South Western, which is considered a weathervane constituency, saw its largest margin of victory since 1989 being that of Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) incumbent Floyd Green defeating PNP candidate, the late Ewan Stephenson by 2,090 votes in 2020. In 2016 Green defeated former PNP MP Hugh Buchanan by 2,057 votes
Wellington said she is cognisant of the characteristics of the constituency and its neighbouring area, St Elizabeth South Eastern.
“I would say that it is a temperature gauge nationally because the southern aspect of the island is quite independent… In politics it is not even to retain, it is to vote out. Often the incumbent, the party that is in power, has the most difficult task so within that context it is telling that [St Elizabeth] South East and South West, they normally go hand in hand,” she said.
“One thing we do not forget, it is a marginal constituency. And even though it swings based on national projections, we need to recognise that anybody who wins [St Elizabeth] South West has to do the work,” added Wellington.
She pointed out that education and agriculture are among her areas of priorities.
“South West is telling me that they want a change, and they are willing to give me that opportunity for many reasons. I have had the opportunity to teach for 16 years, and that has gained me a lot of credibility across the constituency because most of my students stretch from even Junction back to Westmoreland,” said the Black River High School teacher.
She believes St Elizabeth citizens prefer elected representation from among themselves.
“I was born here and people in St Elizabeth value family. Family is very important to them, and every corner of South West you go, you can feel my family. St Elizabeth is a little biased when it comes to the kind of representation that they want, they do not want outsiders. They ensure that the people — even within their own family context, the social settings — they don’t like to go with people who are from far,” she said.
“That is a plus. I would say that being brought up in the political system is also another advantage. I know this constituency like the back of my hand; I’ve been an organiser for almost 15 years,” added Wellington.
The educator expressed her level of confidence in regaining the seat.
“My level of confidence is not determined by anyone else’s popularity or importance. My level of confidence is the fact that I know the work that I have done and the work that I will be doing, and I also am confident in the people that I am representing. They know who I am and I know who they are,” she said.
“I don’t see representing South West as a political accolade or something that I will achieve. The greatest achievement is that the people who I live amongst will finally get representation,” she added.