It is questionable if the incumbent Christ Church East Central representative, Ronald Jones, will continue his winning ways this election, as constituents worry about the state of the island’s economy.
Jones, the current Minister of Education, Science and Technology, has maintained a firm grip on the Christ Church East Central constituency for the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) for over a decade.
His winning streak started in 2003 when he contested for the seat against current Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association Rudy Grant. The former Barbados Union of Teachers president romped home with 2, 524 votes ahead of Grant’s 2, 444 votes.
The DLP’s reign was cemented in 2008 and 2013, when Jones trounced Barbados Labour Party (BLP) hopefuls Dalton Lovell and Desmond Sands respectively.
In the 2013 election, Jones won by 945 votes, having amassed 3, 209 votes to Sands’ 2,264.
However, this general election might upset Jones’ dominance as residents today expressed concerns about the Freundel Stuart administration’s handling of Government finances.
Jeffrey Cheltenham of Wotton Christ Church, applauded Jones’ performance as Minister of Education but said he had seen little representation from the former educator. In fact, since elections were announced April 26, Cheltenham said he was yet to interact with any of the Christ Church East Central contenders.
Ryan Straughn from the BLP, Ogeji Dottin of the United Progressive Party (UPP) and Scott Weatherhead of Solutions Barbados are challenging Jones for the seat.
“I have seen none of them, not one,” said the outspoken farmer, who is yet to decide where he will place his X.
“I am just waiting to hear who is going to bring the best policy to lift us out from where we are and if they can give me enough to convince me that this is going to work to make Barbados better I am going to go with them,” the 65-year-old said.
Cheltenham argued that political candidates should not wait until the last minute to introduce themselves to the electorate, saying “don’t come two to three days before an election and expect to get a vote and after that you don’t see them, you don’t hear them. That is disappointing”.
A frustrated constituent, who requested anonymity, told Barbados TODAY though it might be time for a change, he was unsure which party would be best for the country.
The Ashby Land Christ Church resident revealed that he had been a DLP supporter for more than 40 years but said he was dissatisfied with the level of representation he was getting.
“I feel they should give a new person a chance,” said the resident, adding, “I ain’t know if to vote for Jones or if to vote for the other man. All of them going to come and tell you the same story and when they get in, they don’t support you”.
However, Lodge Road resident Jannis Taylor was leaving the election result in the hands of God. The BLP supporter added that although her neighbourhood was occupied by the Dees, she expected the tables to turn come May 24, with a number of the young people in the constituency seeking change.
“I would advise anybody to come out and vote. If wunna want something good come out and vote,” she said.
Jannis’ grandson, Tashawn, is one of the youngsters who will be casting their vote for the first time. With confidence, the 19-year-old footballer said that Straughn would be getting his vote.
“I like Ryan Straughn better. He helped with the Lodge Road football team when nobody wasn’t helping us, so I would rather give him my vote than Ronald Jones,” Tashawn said.
The findings are in keeping with Barbados TODAY’s Pulse of the People informal survey in April 2017 which suggested that Jones had quite some work to do if he were to retain the support of many of the voters.
Of the DLP supporters who said they were withdrawing their support for the incumbent representative, none had promised at the time to switch allegiance to the BLP, which last won the seat in 1999, when Duncan Carter defeated Wendell Callender of the DLP by 3,227 votes to 2,149.
In fact, DLP supporters seemed quite content to stay home for the election and with elections now a mere two weeks away many are still of this view.