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McKenzie to consult Attorney General on St Thomas deputy mayor controversy

Published:Friday | December 9, 2016 | 5:06 PM
McKenzie ... despite the move to explore any possible legal issues involved dialogue is necessary.

The Local Government Ministry says it will be seeking advice from the Attorney General’s Chambers on how to resolve the impasse resulting from the election of a deputy mayor by the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) councillors in the St Thomas Municipal Corporation yesterday.

The disclosure follows today’s meeting among the local government minister Desmond McKenzie, the JLP councillors and their lawyers.

Yesterday, the People's National Party (PNP) councillors boycotted the swearing-in of the mayor and councillors because of an outstanding court action against Dean Jones, the Yallahs councillor whose election the PNP argues is invalid since he does not live in the parish.

In the absence of the PNP councillors, the mayor Lenworth Rawle, appointed the JLP's Port Morant councillor, Michael Hue as his deputy.

With a five-five tie in the St Thomas municipal corporation, under convention, the mayor should be named from the party with the most overall votes in the parish and his deputy should be selected from the other party.

McKenzie says despite the move to explore any possible legal issues involved, he believes dialogue is necessary.

He had previously indicated that he believes the convention relating to a tie should be respected and upheld.

That convention requires that in the case of a tie, as occurred in St. Thomas, the party with the popular vote selects the Mayor, while the other party selects the Deputy Mayor.

This means it should have been the PNP councillors who selected the deputy mayor for Morant Bay.

IN PHOTO: Dr Lloyd Barnett 

However, constitutional lawyer Lloyd Barnett says he doubts the councillors' decision can be easily reversed as they had the quorum or the right number of persons required to elect the deputy mayor.

And he says they also followed the proper sequence to elect the deputy mayor.


Constitutional laywer, Lloyd Barnett

Dr Barnett also says he is not sure if the PNP and JLP can vote to remove the JLP deputy mayor as the law does not provide for mayors and their deputies to be removed by a vote.