Shahine Robinson bossed political ground game, say councillors
Councillors who have walked the rugged terrain of St Ann North East canvassing for the Jamaica Labour Party have praised late Member of Parliament Shahine Robinson for her commitment to cause and her engagement skills on the hustings.
Also the minister of labour and social security, Robinson died on Friday at her home in Claremont, St Ann, after a two-year battle with cancer. She was 66.
Robinson won six straight polls, beginning with the 2001 by-election, which sent seismic shocks through a one-time safe People’s National Party (PNP) seat. Robinson polled 7,797 votes to defeat the PNP’s Carol Jackson, 7,324; Barbara Clarke of the National Democratic Movement, 742; and independent Astor Black, 42.
She repeated her victory over Jackson in the 2002 general election with a slightly increased margin, defeated Oswest Senior-Smith in 2007, Paul Stewart in 2011, and Desmond Gilmour in 2016. Robinson also emerged victorious in a 2010 by-election, having lost the seat because she was constitutionally ineligible to remain in the House of Representatives because she had United States dual citizenship.
Councillor for the St Ann’s Bay division since 2003, Dallas Dickenson, was there with Robinson from day one, being one of the persons who nominated her on each occasion. They started working together in late 2000 in preparation for the March 2001 by-election.
Another person to have nominated her in 2016 was councillor for the Lime Hall division, Genevor Gordon-Bailey.
“I nominated her because I saw in her the potential to become a member of parliament who would work for the people in the best interest of the people in North East St Ann,” Dickenson told The Gleaner.
“We would have seen her as a champion in the cause for the rights of the people that are in St Ann, and particularly the youth. She was a person who believed in the upliftment and the education of the youth, and for that reason, I always nominated her on nomination day.”
SERIOUS ABOUT POLITICS
Dickenson remembers Robinson as a professional who took politics very seriously.
“She’s one of those persons who would give you a call by six o’clock to say that I need some names of farmers to get some fertiliser, I need some names for the housewives who grow chickens so they can get some chickens for their small business,” said Dickenson, adding that “we have lost a mother”.
Dickenson said he benefited immensely from working with Robinson over the years.
Meanwhile, Gordon-Bailey rated Robinson’s performance as an MP as “superb”.
“I see no other like her ... . There is none, on both sides. Because the connection, the way in which Mrs Robinson worked with us as councillors and sometimes when I hear horror stories of other councillors talking of the way their member of parliament treat them, we know nothing like that in North East St Ann.
Gordon-Bailey said she nominated Robinson in 2016 because she started believing in her once she came into the constituency in 2000.
“I knew that she was the person for the people based on going out with her in the hills and valleys,” she explained.
“In those days, Mile End and also Higgins Town were part of the constituency, so for days, we would walk, and any community we went, even without going there a second time, Mrs Robinson would recall the people’s right names, so I totally believed in her.”
Gordon-Bailey also credited Robinson as being an astute trainer who taught her the rudiments of politics and showed her how to engage in on-the-ground campaigns.