SOUTHFIELD, St Elizabeth — Businessman Mervin “Baboo” Myers, one of two people vying to represent the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) in St Elizabeth South Eastern, has said that he will renounce his United States citizenship only if he is selected as a candidate in the next general election.
At the same time, Myers argued that even if PNP President Mark Golding was placed in the seat, he could not win it, as only he (Myers) was capable of doing so.
The dual citizen spoke to the Jamaica Observer last week after concerns were raised about him not giving up his US citizenship before applying for the constituency to become the party’s representative in the next parliamentary election.
Based on the Jamaican Constitution, anyone who holds dual citizenship outside of the British Commonwealth is ineligible to run for political office in Jamaica.
Myers, who said he became a US citizen about four years ago, is willing to give up his dual citizenship on one condition:
“I made it clear to the party, the region, and to the [PNP] Integrity Commission that I know I have to give it up. I know the requirement. Anytime I get the nod I will give it up, but I’m not going to give it up before they give me the go ahead,” he told the Sunday Observer last week.
“Suppose I give it up today and I don’t get the nod. How can I do that?” he asked.
“You cannot give away surety for unsurety, enuh and I have everything here [Jamaica]. I have my house, it is not like I’m not coming back home. I am willing to give it up to make sure that the PNP is back in power and that is a big sacrifice I am making…” added Myers.
Attorney Ian Stephenson is the other aspirant vying to represent the party in St Elizabeth South Eastern. He is the nephew of Ewan Stephenson, losing PNP candidate in 2020 General Election for the constituency of St Elizabeth South Western, who died of cancer two years ago.
Myers believes he can regain the constituency for the PNP if selected as the party’s representative.
“To be honest, I am the only one who can win it right now; if you bring Mark Golding down here he can’t win it. Nobody else. Right now is me bring back south-east from the depths of the darkness,” he said.
“When I put in my letter [application] three years ago everybody was dormant … Since I have moved around in the constituency, I see the revival, so I’m not going to revive it for nobody… If I saw someone who could win it, I would support them; if I saw someone from day one who I knew can win the constituency I would back off,” added Myers.
The constituency became a swing seat after former Member of Parliament and PNP member Derrick Rochester, now deceased, left politics.
Len Blake, who served as a lead political organiser for many years in support of Rochester, contested the October 16, 2002 General Election polling 7,507 votes to defeat the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) Franklin Witter by 82 votes.
In the September 3, 2007 General Election Witter won the seat when he polled 9,064 votes, defeating the PNP’s Norman Horne by 544 votes.
The PNP regained the constituency following the December 29, 2011 General Election with Richard Parchment polling 9,902 votes to unseat Witter by 970 votes.
Witter returned as MP for two consecutive terms following the February 25, 2016 election, polling 9,223 votes, thus defeating Parchment by 205 votes, and the September 3, 2020 election with 9,038 votes to beat PNP candidate Dr Dwaine Spencer by 2,702 votes.
Myers, who is the brother of Councillor Audie Myers (PNP, Siloah Division), said he is “not in a losing mood”.
“I am not going to sacrifice the constituency … I am not bashing any comrade, but if you weak, you weak. You have to get into the communities. If you never used to be on the ground with the people, then you can’t do that,” he said.
“To save the people of South East St Elizabeth, I am willing and ready to give up United States to come and serve and to live amongst the people so that we can have a better community, that we can be free, sit down and play domino and [not be] afraid seh man a come lick off we head, that is what I am striving for and to make people have a better way of life,” added Myers.
He reiterated his willingness to renounce his US citizenship.
“I am willing to give it up and, as I said to the Integrity Commission, I will, but not until I get the go-ahead to go forward. People in the party have told me not to give it up until I get the nod,” said Myers.
A source within the constituency, who is aligned to the PNP, said Myers not renouncing his US citizenship before applying for the seat has raised scrutiny among delegates.
“We getting concerns among the delegates. A lot of them have concerns, but I don’t know if any of them have said it to him,” said the source who asked not to be named.
However, Myers, in response, dismissed the claim that there were concerns among delegates.
“That is a propaganda part of it. The few little ones who were talking are on the other side, so the only thing they could come up with is that little issue. When I said I am [willing] to renounce my citizenship that is not a problem,” he said.
Myers labelled himself a community man born in Yardley Chase, Southfield.
“I grew up in the Southfield Division, attended Mayfield School then went on to Junction Secondary and then I went onto a community college. I did my own business from there, went to Canada, came back and then to the US and [now] I’m back,” he said.
Myers is awaiting word from the party’s Integrity Commission and a poll expected to be ordered by the PNP in the constituency to determine his next move.
“I have Southfield lock. They can’t touch me at Southfield,” he claimed.
“The passion that I have for people from when I was a kid still remains. I don’t think myself bigger than anybody, better than anybody,” added Myers, who is an ordained minister of religion and a registered nurse.
“The party needs to use who can win. I warn my party people all the time. You have to do the groundwork. I am not a dictator, I am a servant of the people and when the people elect you to serve them you have to serve them with dignity and passion,” Myers said.
Last month Golding urged aspirants vying to represent the party in the next parliamentary election to settle differences in constituencies.
Pointing to the comradeship between Myers and Stephenson, the PNP president urged those vying to represent the party to settle their differences.
“For us to win back Government in this country we haffi win South East St Elizabeth … so we all haffi do this thing right — and the thing involves coming together under one umbrella, oneness, to put in the work. Comrades, I am asking you tonight, all [the] little differences, settle them out and put them aside. One heart wi a deal wid, one unity, one movement, moving to victory for South East St Elizabeth,” Golding said in an address at the PNP’s Myersville divisional conference in Nain on May 21.
At that time, Golding’s plea was apparently in reference to campaigns in St Elizabeth North Eastern with lawyer Zuleika Jess and the party’s region five Chairman Kern Spencer.
Jess gained the majority support of delegates to represent the PNP in St Elizabeth North Eastern in the next general election after triumphing over Spencer in last Sunday’s internal election in Santa Cruz. Jess polled 569 to Spencer’s 209 votes.