Portia tells why

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PHOTO: Portia Simpson Miller (left) and Angela Brown Burke (second right) greet constituents in St Andrew South Western, the constituency that Simpson Miller represented for 40 years, during a walk through yesterday ahead of this Sunday's selection exercise to replace the former MP. Brown Burke and Councillor Audrey Smith Facey are vying for the position. (Photo: Nickoy Miller)

Former St Andrew SW MP says her replacement must not be rude to constituents

Portia Simpson Miller yesterday pushed back at critics who likened her endorsement of People’s National Party (PNP) Senator Angela Brown Burke to “stabbing” Councillor Audrey Smith Facey in the back.

Simpson Miller’s resignation from representational politics last month created a vacancy in St Andrew South Western, one of the most sought-after constituencies over which Brown Burke, councillor for the Norman Gardens Division, and Smith Facey, councillor for the Payne Land Division, are at odds.

Constituents and other members of the party with interest in the safe seat labelled Simpson Miller, one-time leader of the Opposition party, a “sell-out”, arguing that Smith Facey has been “by her side” for more than a decade.

The whiff in the constituency held by Simpson Miller for 40 years became agonising when a video the Jamaica Observer obtained last week showed the veteran politician endorsing Brown Burke, a virtual “outsider” to the garrison.

But yesterday, Simpson Miller declared that her replacement must be more than a shadow of her.

“I believe that Angela is more like me. She will love and treat the people with respect. I do not want to leave my constituency in hands that will not behave the way I behave among my people — embracing them and continuing with the number of students I send through university and those who needed help for high school.

“I want somebody who will operate the same way I operated as the MP for this constituency and somebody who will not be rude to the people. They are my people; they made me MP for this constituency for 40 years. I transformed this from JLP (Jamaica Labour Party) to PNP,” she told the Observer during a walk-through of the Whitfield Town Division with Brown Burke yesterday.

Smith Facey, who was present in her division at the time of Brown Burke’s walk-through there, told the Observer that crowds and endorsements are non-factors to her.

“I have the delegates,” the woman, who calls Simpson Miller cousin, declared.

The councillor suggested that she was blindsided by Simpson Miller’s decision and explained that she was part of a 10-year development plan for the constituency.

She said while Simpson Miller has achieved “much”, there is more to be done in terms of housing developments, the rehabilitation of roads, the refurbishing of schools, education and social programmes.

In the meantime, she distanced herself from those in the party who label themselves as “Team Renewal”, a group, some say, has been pushing for the promotion of younger Comrades.

“What is Team Renewal? What I do know is that Sister P leaving and a new MP coming is a renewal. Renewal is a process, my dear,” she said, adding that she was the right choice because the constituents have said it.

Brown Burke, whose division falls within the Kingston Eastern constituency, said while there might be a development plan in the constituency, plans sometimes need tweaking.