Jamaica Finance Minister Dr. Omar Davies was Sunday returned as chairman of the People’s National Party Region Three after polling 616 votes to beat family physician Dr. Jephthah Ford.
Eight hundred and seventy persons voted from a delegates list of 1,450, with four ballots being spoiled. The losing candidate, who amassed 250 votes in the PNP Region Three’s annual conference held at St. George’s College on North Street, central Kingston, said Dr. Davies’ re-election meant “more of the same” for the party’s declining ground in Region Three, reports the Jamaica Gleaner.
Dr. Davies, who is starting his third consecutive year as Region Three chairman, said he expected to have been returned to prepare the PNP’s machinery in the 15 Region Three constituencies in Kingston and St. Andrew.
“I will welcome Dr. Ford; he has raised certain issues,” he said, referring to the frequent violence in PNP communities. “He hasn’t been active in the Regional Management Committee, but I am going to invite him to come in because he has some ideas about some of the issues which are of concern to us.”
One of the planks on which Dr. Ford campaigned was that Dr. Davies’ ministerial duties and presidential bid did not afford him time to help defuse tensions in certain PNP strongholds.
But the Region Three chairman said that was the job of the police force.
“I have a strong presence in the region but there are certain fundamental differences in approach,” Dr. Davies said. “I don’t interfere in matters of criminality. Those are the responsibility of the police force. I don’t believe in crime in PNP areas and crime in JLP areas. Crime is crime. It’s a position I’ve taken and it’s a position I stand by.”
Dr. Davies said he also thought the voting “went very well.”
But not so, said Dr. Ford who charged that the voting was fraudulent as there were 870 votes when only 776 delegates registered yesterday to vote.
Rebutting his assertion, Paul Burke, director of election yesterday, told The Gleaner that the initial number of delegates announced to have registered yesterday was 776. But, he said, this was because the constituency executives in the region were omitted from the initial registration count.
Besides that, Mr. Burke said the election went well.
“We had logistical problems with both registration and election because people were asked to provide IDs for registration,” he said.
For his part, Colin Campbell, deputy PNP general secretary, said the election was conducted fairly.
“We (secretariat) are satisfied with process,” he said. “Whenever you have voting, the conference committee would have set out the procedures and its quite normal for candidates to have some queries.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Ford, who has unsuccessfully contested the North West St. Andrew constituency several times, yesterday poured scorn on Dr. Davies’ invitation to become more active in Region Three.
“It’s more of the same,” he said of the finance minister’s re-election. “But the people must be happy with what is happening (in Region Three),” he told The Gleaner.