Thomas vows PNP clean sweep in Portmore; not so fast says Edwards JLP Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

“All 12 divisions in Portmore will be won by the PNP (People’s National Party) on Monday”. That’s the bold declaration made by the incumbent mayor-candidate for the Portmore Municipal Corporation, the PNP’s Leon Thomas while speaking with Loop News ahead of Monday’s local government election.

Thomas said he is confident of a clean sweep based on his record of performance in Portmore since he first took over as Mayor in 2013 when the then-incumbent, George Lee died in office. Thomas went on the secure his own mandate in the 2016 local government election.

But, while he looks to his record and that of his councillors to ensure the PNP retains control in Portmore, his challenger Markland Edwards who is the standard bearer for the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), has other ideas.

Edwards, a political neophyte, who was named as the JLP’s candidate just weeks ago, has sought to punch holes in Thomas’ argument about his achievements while talking up the JLP’s plans for Portmore, which includes making Portmore Jamaica’s 15th parish. Thomas is firm in his belief that voters will stick with the PNP.

“I can tell you this, the people of Portmore are not going to be fooled by the Prime Minister running all over the place breaking ground and making announcements. The ceremonial groundbreaking and promises since the announcement of the election date not going to work,” he remarked.

“I am telling you that we (the PNP) will be winning all 12 divisions in the Portmore Municipality and I will be returned as mayor,” Thomas told Loop News. The two divisions currently held by the JLP are Independence City and Gregory Park.

Edwards is equally confident, declaring that “I’m absolutely certain [of victory] because what the people of Portmore are looking for is proper representation, proper planning and somebody that is visible and accessible”.

“My thing is that though I’m running on a JLP ticket I will not be a mayor for those who are supporters of the Jamaica Labour Party only, I will be mayor for the people of Portmore”.

Edwards also addressed the question of whether he was at a disadvantage since the party only announced him as its candidate in late January, despite him having applied to represent the party in 2020.

“To be honest, I’ve been on the ground since 2020 so my presence has been on the ground since then,” said Edwards. He expressed that Portmore residents have the same concerns whether it is a local or general election. “They’re talking about having on time and scheduled garbage collection, they’re talking about water in their pipe, they’re talking about road infrastructure, business investments coming into the space, jobs and more jobs,” he said.

“With those things being the centre of the campaign I think we can deliver. We have delivered nationally where the road infrastructure is concerned, the $40 billion SPARK programme announced by the prime minister will now address community roads,” he pointed out even as he noted that the state of the roads in the municipality were in a deplorable state. Edwards said the community parks were rundown and in need of rehabilitation. “We’re going to be doing all of that, those are some of the things we plan to get done,” he said.

“All the amenities that are needed to really make the space the place to live, work, raise families and do business we’re looking at those,” said Edwards.

Thomas has brushed aside Edwards’ talk of victory, noting that “he has no record to run on and he has no plans”.

“Mark is talking about central government projects. And Mark is talking about what he is going to do – improve garbage collection and all those things but that is what it is, mere talk”.

Thomas then went on to list what he said were his accomplishments and plans which include:

-The relocation of vendors at the entrance to Portmore to Ackee Village and equipping the space with bathroom and other facilities.

-The construction of the municipal corporation building at Braeton Parkway.

-Improving the sidewalk network throughout the municipality.

-The construction of community entrance boards making it easier for visitors to locate communities.

-Construction of community parks.

-Contruction of a transportation centre near Portmore Mall for use by taxi operators (the police and Transport Authority have met with the taxi operators with a view to getting them to use the facility).

-Construction of the Naggo Head bus terminus which is equipped with shops.

-Construction of modern bus shelters throughout the municipality.

-The transformation of Braeton Parkway with the entry of PriceSmart, Courts, Fontana Pharmacy, Starbucks and IBEX into the space.

Meanwhile, Thomas said lands in the vicinity of the fishing village have been chosen for a two-story market, the plans have been shared with the Ministry of Local Government.

Thomas also shared that more developments are planned for Braeton Parkway to include government offices being sited there.

“I have also written to the Minister of Local Government telling him that we want a fire station in that vicinity because Portmore needs at least three fire stations; one in Hellshire, one at Braeton Parkway and the one currently in Waterford,” said Thomas.