The Liberia Media Development or LMD in collaboration with Internews, the Press Union of Liberia and community radio stations in Maryland County, southeast Liberia has ended a day-long debate among candidates vying for seat in Harper City Electoral District #1, Maryland.
Maryland County electoral District #1 has a total of 13 candidates, competing to occupy the single seat comes October 10, 2017. The district is currently represented by incumbent Representative James Bannie of the National Patriotic Party or NPP. He has held the helm of power since the administration of jailed ex-Liberian President Charles G. Taylor.
The NPP is currently member of the three-party Coalition for Democratic Change led by Montserrado County senator George Weah as standard bearer and senator Jewel Howard Taylor of Bong County as running mate. Rep. Bannie has openly told citizens of the district that he is no longer contesting for the seat, but is instead, supporting the a Coalition candidate since his party, the NPP is a member of the Coalition.
According to Liberian Journalist Raymond Zarbay and Madam Sonnie Morris Doe, head and deputy head, respectively of the LMD debate team for the southeast, the platform was created to give candidates an opportunity to present their platforms to the electorates and say why they should be elected to represent Harper District.
The debate, which was divided into two phases, saw Rev. Olayee Sunday Collins of the Coalition for Democratic Change or CDC, Mr. William W. Wallace, of the True Whig Party or TWP, and Mr. John Dioh Kimber, iii, an Independent Candidate, meeting in phase one.
Candidates (Madam) Josephine Y. Allison of the United People’s Party or UPP, Nyanken Swen of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction or MDR, and P. Mike Jurry of the governing Unity Party or UP debated in phase two of the exercise.
Speaking on generic question posed by the moderator on Education, Healthcare, Infrastructure, Security, General Welfare of community and Reconciliation, each of the six candidates promised to, if elected, closely work with the citizens to ensure the district is developed.
UP candidate Mr. P. Mike Jurry, promises that if elected, he will work with citizens to improve education, health, agriculture, infrastructure development, youth empowerment, job creation, water and sanitation.
He also vows to focus on decentralization of government and to work with the citizens of Maryland in restoring the county’s lost pride as well as exposing youth talents, and work with members of the disable community, construct a vocational institution and build an inclusive leadership, while maintain zero tolerance on ritualistic killings in the district and the entire county.
The only female representative candidate in the race, Madam Josephine Y. Allison, promises that if elected, she would work with the people of Harper District in providing quality education, health care delivery, empowerment for all women, youth and men, promote agriculture and reconciliation to ensure that Harper District is second to none.
When contacted to provide reason why he did not attend the debate, the Liberty Party candidate for the district, Abraham Jackson, says the letter inviting him to the debate was addressed to him as an individual, rather than thru the party as an institution. Besides, Jackson argues that he was contacted barely two days to the debate, when he had already come to Monrovia attend some issues at the LP headquarters.
All efforts to contact the rest of the seven candidates proved fruitless up to press time. Isaac P. Swen, Elizabeth Hne, and Faith Wilson, all residents of Harper District, are among cross section of citizens, who spoke to this paper after the debate, lauding the LMD for creating the platform that enable them to interact with the candidates and listen to their platform, adding that the debate enable them to know who have the best platform that they can trust and elect.
The debate is expected to be extended to PleeboSodoken Statutory District #2, Karluway and Barrobo electoral District #3, respectively during the course of this week.
By George K. Momo/ Maryland-Editing by Jonathan Browne