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No honeymoon for councillors – McKenzie

Jamaica Gleaner / Minister of Local Government Desmond McKenzie says he expects the new slate of mayors to hit the ground running after they are sworn into office on December 8.

In a press release yesterday, McKenzie advised that all 228 councillors, along with mayor of Portmore, should take their places next week Thursday, at the first statutory meeting of their respective municipal corporations.

With some municipal corporations putting plans in place to hold swearing-in ceremonies this Friday, the ministry has said that some returning officers have indicated that the final count of ballots in the electoral divisions will not be completed in time to facilitate this.

In a Gleaner interview yesterday, McKenzie said he expected the new mayors to adapt as quickly as possible and execute their responsibilities on the job. He said most of the persons expected to be appointed mayors are seasoned councillors, and, therefore, it is important that they take on local governance issues immediately because there is a lot of work to be done.

“My expectation is high and, as someone who had been in that position before, I know what is required of them,” said McKenzie.

He said the cooperation of everyone in the corporations, not only at the political but also administrative levels, was needed, because while the mayors and councillors craft policies, it is the technocrats who execute them.

SENSITISATION EXERCISES The local government minister said his ministry would be carrying out training and sensitisation programmes for elected representatives and administrative staff.

“They have to know what their core functions are and that is why we are going to be having a series of sensitisation exercises that will include all the municipal corporations, including the Portmore municipality.”

Meanwhile, when the new councillors are sworn in, the People’s National Party will only be able to name four mayors for Savanna-la-Mar, Mandeville, Hanover and St Catherine, with the fifth, Leon Thomas, elected by the people of Portmore in St Catherine.

This is in stark contrast to what obtained prior to November 28, when the PNP had 14 mayors directing the local authorities, including the municipality of Portmore.

Former mayor of Montego Bay, Glendon Harris, has been sent into the political wilderness after losing the Maroon Town division by 81 votes to the JLP’s Everes Coke. Desmond Gilmore, the former mayor of St Ann’s Bay, has also been sent packing by the JLP’s Genevor Gordon-Bailey, who won the Lime Hall division by 331 votes.

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