By Racquel Porter
Firebrand Jamaica Labour Party candidate Venesha Phillips is among the proposed debaters who will face off against People's National Party candidates in the first round of debates ahead of the February 26 local government election.
The debates are scheduled for February 15 and 17 at the Creative Production and Training Centre (CPTC), with a price tag of $24 million.
Ms. Phillips, who served the Papine Division in St. Andrew Eastern as a second-term councillor on the PNP's ticket, was nominated as the JLP's candidate on Thursday at Mona High School.
JLP's Sharon Hay Webster listed the proposed candidates during a Jamaica Debates Commission press conference on Friday morning.
"We have Senator Charles Sinclair, Mayor Richard Creary, and Councillor Venesha Phillips for the first debate.... And the pool for the second debate is Mayor Senator Delroy Williams, Deputy Mayor Richard Vernon, and one of two female councillors, either Whitney Smith Curry of Brompton Division or Tanya Lee Williams of May Pen North," she indicated, noting that the list is tentative.
The PNP's Colin Campbell told journalists that the party will finalise its debaters by Monday.
"Our pool is a pool that has placed great emphasis on young candidates. So you will see a few of the existing players, but widely speaking, it will be a showcase of the new and special talent that will be available to the local government system," he said.
Each debate will run for 90 minutes.
The Jamaica Debates Commission (JDC) has urged citizens to tune in to the debates and engage in discussions ahead of the February 26 poll.
Vice Chair of the Commission Brian Schmidt said debate watches will also be organised.
"We go into specific communities that we are accessing via Zoom. We are doing it digitally this year again. We have 20 Zoom rooms where we bring people together to watch the debate and debate the debate afterwards. This is part of us doing work to foster constructive discussion around political issues across the length and breadth of the island," he explained.