December 11, 2011 by staff
Meadowbrook Hall, A David versus Goliath-like battle is on the cards for North West St Andrew where trade unionist Granville Valentine is taking aim at Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) stalwart Derrick Smith in the December 29 general election.
Valentine, who served as chief union delegate at Jamaica Flour Mills for several years, left his job in 1999 to become a union officer at the People’s National Party (PNP)-affiliated National Workers Union (NWU).
There he won many battles around the bargaining table and was eventually elected as a vice-president of the union, which was actually created by the PNP in 1952.
Valentine has, for a long time, been a member of the PNP’s National Executive Council and was a key member of the group of comrades who helped to propel Portia Simpson Miller to the leadership of the PNP.
While his successes as a trade unionist have been reasonable, his entry into representational politics in 2009 did little to boost his image. At that time, he was selected by the PNP to challenge the JLP’s Gregory Mair who, having won the St Catherine North Eastern seat in the 2007 general election, was forced to step down as a result of a court ruling declaring him ineligible to sit as a member of the House of Representatives because he held Venezuelan citizenship.
In the subsequent by-election, Mair trounced Valentine, by all of 2,600 votes to retain the seat.
But Valentine remained close to the PNP and a few months ago received clearance to begin ground work in Smith’s JLP stronghold of North Western St Andrew, which includes communities such as Maverly, Pembroke Hall, Meadowbrook, Patrick City, Queensborough, Three Oaks and Hughenden.
His objective, he says, is to unseat Smith who has had the seat since 1989. The PNP candidate says his foray into representational politics in 2009 has prepared him for the upcoming contest.
“It is my view that you must wet your feet first before you start thinking of going in a full-fledged election,” he said in an interview with the Sunday Observer. “I learnt a whole lot, that money could not buy. That has prepared me for this election, and I would hasten to say, it’s a different kettle of fish.”
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