Wed | Sep 20, 2017

McKenzie could overturn St Thomas mayor's appointment ... calls meeting for today

Published:Friday | December 9, 2016 | 12:00 AMShanna Monteith
The St Thomas Municipal Corporation, minus the People’s National Party representatives yesterday.

A decision by the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) councillors in St Thomas yesterday to appoint one of their own as deputy mayor could be overturned following the intervention of the local government minister, Desmond McKenzie.

The final count of local government votes in St Thomas saw a five-five tie between the People's National Party (PNP) and the JLP.

With the JLP winning the popular vote, the mayor was elected from among the JLP councillors, and the deputy mayor should have been elected from among the PNP councillors, according to local government conventions.

The PNP councillors boycotted the swearing-in ceremony because they claimed that JLP councillor for the Yallahs Division Dean Jones is unfit to sit in the local authority.

They said that Jones did not live in St Thomas as was required by law and have filed a motion in the Supreme Court seeking to bar him from sitting in the council.

With the PNP councillors absent, the mayor of Morant Bay, Lenworth Rawle, called for his colleague councillor Michael Hugh to be elected as deputy mayor.

His action was accepted by his JLP colleagues who were present.

 

CONVENTION TO BE UPHELD

 

In a statement last night, McKenzie said he had summoned the JLP councillors in the St Thomas Municipal Corporation to a meeting today and promised that their action would be fully reviewed.

He emphasised that "the convention will be respected and upheld, where once a tie occurs, the party with the popular vote will select the mayor, while the other party selects the deputy mayor".

In the meantime, PNP General Secretary Julian Robinson said that the party was seeking legal advice on how to deal with the JLP's action.

"... the JLP's actions, apart from being in very bad faith, may be illegal, and our lawyers will examine the matter and determine how we should proceed," Robinson told The Gleaner.