One woman’s big plans to lift PNP in St James Southern

MONTEGO BAY, St James — With plans to foster social and economic development in the St James South constituency, deputy general secretary of the People’s National Party (PNP) Nekeisha Burchell is ready to throw her hat in the ring in the next general election.

Burchell, a communication strategist, is one of three people to have initially expressed interest in the seat.

The others are educator Dr Walton Small, who represented the party in the last general election, and former mayor of Montego Bay Glendon Harris. However, Dr Small opted out of the race early on.

Burchell and Harris were then put to a poll in the constituency and based on the results, Burchell was chosen as the provisional candidate to go forward.

Boasting over 14 years of experience working behind the scenes as the personal assistant to former Member of Parliament and Cabinet minister, now Senator Peter Bunting, among other political communication roles, Burchell told the Jamaica Observer that she is humbled to have been granted the opportunity, as being “a product” of the St James Southern constituency, she understands the needs and desires of the people.

“Having been schooled and raised in this constituency, and parish, I possess an intimate knowledge of the people, their culture, and their aspirations for a better standard of living. This profound understanding, coupled with my enduring desire to see South St James develop and flourish, fuels my decision to step forward,” she said.

“Throughout my academic and professional career, I have focused on communication, politics, and service, which make me a strong advocate for the constituency, the parish, and Jamaica as a whole,” she added.

Burchell, who holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations and political science along with a master’s in strategic communications, is hoping to utilise her education and experience in communication to assist in her candidacy, ultimately building the PNP’s chance of winning a seat in the parish.

“I am acutely aware that South St James is facing challenges, particularly in terms of political engagement and enthusiasm, especially among the youth. As a candidate, I pledge to utilise my youthfulness to bridge the gap between the political sphere and young people,” she explained.

“Moreover, I understand the current state of the PNP’s political organisation in St James. I am committed to bridging gaps, instilling hope, and rebuilding a cohesive structure that serves the best interests of the constituency. With my experience and passion, I will work towards steady progress, inspiring the party faithful to continue their important work,” Burchell added.

Since being declared the PNP candidate for the constituency, Burchell told the Sunday Observer that the people of the St James Southern have welcomed her with open arms and optimism.

This, she said, is a positive indicator of the partnership and collaboration that she believes are ahead.

“I am so humbled by the reception that I’ve received from the people of South St James — it’s almost like a homecoming. The support and the love that they’re showing me is a blessing. I feel like they can tap into my energy and they realise that I’m coming to them with humility, and a sense of service,” she said.

At the same time, Burchell said that after deciding to enter representational politics, she feels as if it is her “responsibility” to jump-start her career in the constituency that moulded her into the woman she currently is.

Sharing that she has big dreams for this new task in representational politics, Burchell told the Sunday Observer that she is confident that through hard work and service, the St James Southern constituency will be transformed.

“I envision a thriving South St James that embraces sustainable development, fosters community engagement, and offers opportunities for economic growth and social well-being. Through strategic initiatives, we will prioritise education, infrastructure, agriculture, and eco-tourism, while promoting safety and security,”

She continued, “Together, we will build a vibrant and inclusive constituency that cherishes its natural beauty, supports its residents, and cultivates a sense of unity and pride. South St James will be an idyllic rural haven, where families can flourish, businesses can survive and communities can thrive.”

While pointing out that her family still resides in the constituency, Burchell said that she is looking forward to a transformed constituency if she is elected the next Member of Parliament.

“I eagerly look forward to engaging with the community, understanding their needs, and working collaboratively to foster positive change. With the support and trust of the constituents, I am confident that I can contribute significantly to the progress of South St James and, ultimately, the betterment of our beloved country,” she said.

“My connection to South St James goes beyond politics. It is an acknowledgement that with the blessings I have received, there is an expectation to give back. The constituency has provided my family with a home, friendships, and opportunities for economic growth. It is my sincere intention to provide the representation that South St James deserves and can be proud of,” Burchell added.