Ready to run again
Irene Sandiford-Garner is a woman of her word.
After her defeat at the 2008 polls by a mere 43 votes, she told the people of St. Andrew she would be back to contest the seat again and to represent them.
“I am back because I am a member of a party that has done so much in the past five years with so little and we’ve done that because we’ve prioritised people, people like you. My party in the past five years has done things that countries larger than us, countries more powerful than ours economically, have not done.
“We increased disability benefits, we have increased pensions, we introduced the free summer camp programme of which St. Andrew benefitted because I pushed that we also be included. When last have you heard of a child drowning on the East Coast because my government made sure that when you went to work in the eight or whatever weeks they are for summer vacation … we take care of your children every summer.
“We have made sure that your children are protected from the culture we call the ZR culture. This Democratic Labour Party, of which I am proud to belong, has ensured that your children can travel in peace and safety on the Transport Board buses and those parents among you who are responsible ensure that every morning your children get the Transport Board bus to school,” she said.
Another reason Sandiford-Garner gave for her return was that she was part of a Government that empowered householders living in state built houses for 20 years or more to own them.
“I am back because I know that my Government cares.”
She also spoke about the events surrounding the recounting of votes in the rural constituency.
“The night of January 18, 2008 and the morning of January 19 was probably one of the most traumatic nights and most traumatic mornings of most people through the constituency of St. Andrew. I remember not being able to be with my colleagues in George Street when they were celebrating the victory that we had waited so long for … because I was at the Alleyne School trying to determine which votes were mine,” she said before becoming emotional.
“I worked … and I said that this seat was mine. To this day I cannot tell you what happened. I counted every vote, I counted every vote. I was not at the count but I canvassed every box and I knew what I was expecting.
“But you know I always say and I learnt this from a great politician, actually the gentleman was born the same day and the same year that I was born. … He said ‘that sometimes what you want is not what God wants’. That man’s name is Barack Obama and the first election that he contested to be the senator of Illinois, he lost. He’s the President of the United States today …,” she said.
She added that she remembered Obama who had to overcome some of the same issues, obstacles, and battles as she did. She also said that when her thoughts strayed back to that day she remembered what he said and as long as God gave her strength, determination and health she would fight.
“Tonight I’m saying to St. Andrew I am back. I know that they’re many people in St. Andrew and outside who wondered what happened that night but we have put that behind us. Those of us who cried that night and I wasn’t the only one who was crying, actually the St. Andrew people made me cry.
“I was Ms. Tower of Strength until people like Tracy Jordan start bawling, ’til people like Don Foster start bawling and from the time they started to break down my defences crumbled. I’m a strong woman, I’m a resilient woman, I am a determined woman, and I said to them that night, I will be back and I kept my word, “ Sandiford-Garner asserted. (DS)