Hugh Graham of the People’s National Party (PNP) said he is ‘ready to serve’ after narrowly winning the St. Catherine North West constituency, based on a preliminary count of ballots cast in the General Election yesterday.
He amassed 5283 votes, which is 22 more than his arch rival Newton Amos of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). Independent candidate Gene Guthrie polled 25 votes in the constituency, which covers four Divisions – Linstead, Lluidas Vale, Ewarton and Treadways.
The Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) said 34,425 people were eligible to vote in St. Catherine North West yesterday – an increase by 1,460 when compared to the previous election.
The EOJ further stated that the returning officer will today commence the final count of all ballots at a designated counting centre.
Ahead of the final count, Graham, along with his supporters, have been celebrating throughout the constituency. He also congratulated the JLP and promised to work in the interest of Jamaica.
Graham added: “I am ready to serve you [my constituents]. Thank you to all who supported. I will continue to serve the people of North West St. Catherine as I have for the past 13 years. You can be assured that I will live up to my promises.”
This is the first time that Graham is contesting an election at the constituency level. However, he, up to recently, served as Councillor of the Lluidas Vale Division in St. Catherine North West.
Graham, who is also a successful businessman, was chosen to represent the PNP in the General Election after the recent retirement of his protégé Robert Pickersgill, who held the seat for 31 years.
In the meantime, Amos of the JLP is suffering his second straight defeat in a General Election in the constituency, having lost in 2016 to Pickersgill. However, he drastically cut the PNP’s margin of victory – transforming the once PNP stronghold into a marginal seat. Over the two elections, Amos reduced the said margin of victory from 2,073 to 22.
When The Beacon arrived at the polling station at Lluidas Vale Primary School yesterday afternoon, Amos’ green-clad supporters were fuming. They claimed that their opponent, Graham, disrespected them by making certain gestures and comments that are unbecoming of a leader.
Graham scoffed at the accusations. “Dem always complain because mi brawfy brawfy,” he told The Beacon while showing the ‘True Religion’ jeans he was wearing.
Graham is also sometimes criticized for openly displaying his luxurious motorcars. However, he said his intention is to inspire people to work hard – like he did – in order to achieve the material things they desire.
There was also a standoff between supporters of both political parties in the vicinity of the police station in Lluidas Vale – this as efforts were being made to transport ballot boxes outside the rain-drenched community to facilitate the preliminary counting of votes. The police intervened and quelled the tension.
By Horace Mills, Journalist
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