February 4, 2014
Jomo Thomas sets eyes on South Leeward seat

Government senator and lawyer, Jomo Thomas has officially declared his intention to become a Unity Labour Party (ULP) candidate for the next general elections, constitutionally due by 2015.{{more}}

At a media briefing at his chambers yesterday, Thomas broke the news to reporters, stating that he intends to contest the South Leeward seat, and made it clear if he were to become the candidate, the Unity Labour Party (ULP) will recapture that constituency, currently held by Nigel Stephenson.

“I am absolutely convinced without a shadow of doubt, that I would make the most outstanding candidate for ULP in South Leeward…. I think Stephenson can be defeated and I intend to defeat him,” Thomas boldly stated.

“I accepted the senatorship and two, I’ve now decided to put myself in to contest the next general elections,” Thomas said.

Former senator David Browne, who contested the South Leeward seat for the ULP in the 2010 general elections plans to pursue university studies, opening the path to the candidacy for Thomas.

Thomas’ disclosure came one day after the ULP hosted its 20th annual convention at the Campden Park Secondary School.

He said when the Prime Minister asked him to become a senator on September 15, 2013, he thought that part of the process of becoming a senator would be to work towards assisting the incumbent ULP not only to reclaim the South Leeward constituency, but retain its parliamentary majority in the house.

Thomas said, of the four seats the ULP lost in the 2010 general elections, they have a good chance of regaining two of those seats.

“I’m not saying we don’t have any chance in the others, but I’m saying we have a better chance in both South Leeward and North Leeward,” Thomas said.

The ULP was narrowly returned to office with an 8-7 victory in the 2010 elections, losing, in addition to North and South Leeward, the West and Central Kingstown constituencies.

Thomas explained that both leeward constituencies have always been marginal seats, expect for a few general elections in the past.

“The ULP, with the right candidates in both of them and a smart campaign, would have a real chance of at least including those two,” Thomas stated.

According to Thomas, who is also a trained journalist, the ULP’s chances will be immensely improved, if in the selection process, they come away with the best candidates who can unify the party’s supporters and bring them out to the polls in the next general elections.

“With my years of history and struggle and standing up for people; standing up for progressive causes; for being vocal and strong and independent for the rights of black and in the reparations and independence, I think my candidacy would resonate in South Leeward. I think it would energize, not only ULP supporters in South Leeward, but across the country generally. In the end, I would put myself and the party in a good position, not only for me to win the seat, but to ensure the party increases its parliamentary majority,” Thomas told reporters.

“Many people know the name. They recognize the name… and that’s why I think I would be the best candidate the ULP can put forward in South Leeward.”

Thomas said when he was sworn in as a senator, he did not want to be just a senator, but an elected parliamentarian.

“I want to be an integral part of the leadership of my party; an integral part of the work we are doing… I think I am uniquely placed having had a broad international experience…I think I will be able to contribute to the policy development and articulation of the ULP …”

He noted that there are other contenders for the constituency, but he has not seen any official announcement from them.

Thomas said if he becomes the candidate for the ULP, he would set out strategic plans to make South Leeward better.

Outlining his intentions for the constituency, Thomas said he wants to see the youths educated, involved in sports and culture, and helping to build up the community in ways it used to be before.

“Young people have to realize that the world is much more than video games, dancehall and music. They have to think about their own future… The key is to get them back,” Thomas added.

He further stated that the vision has to be to concentrate on young people without forgetting about the older ones.

“We need to have people engaged in the communities, in the resource centres and churches doing work that is important to the constituency…,” Thomas told journalists.

Thomas also underscored some of the major problems facing the constituency, including unemployment and housing.

He said even with the improvements in education, too many people have still fallen off.

With the ULP looking for a fourth term in office, Thomas believes the party has the leadership, candidates, programmes, drive and vigour of its members, to win with an increased majority.

He said while the ULP has a 51 to 49 split in the popular vote, its chances of winning the next general elections are as “good as any.”

“What the party needs to do most is campaign on our record. If we campaign on our record, we are going to do exceptionally well.”

When asked what is the mindset of the ULP going forward with elections on the horizon, Thomas said, they are going to prepare and organize.

“We are not going to win an election by PM Gonsalves talking about all the projects we are doing as a ULP Government…”