PM urges junior mayors to help push local government
Prime Minister Andrew Holness is urging the island's junior mayors to use their platform to inspire more Jamaicans to support the activities of local government.
He gave the charge as he welcomed the youth representatives of the island's 14 municipal corporations during a courtesy call at Jamaica House on Wednesday.
Appointment of the junior mayors is the last major activity for Local Government Month in November.
The Prime Minister noted that local government is an important part of the country's system of governance.
"It is government at the grassroots, government of the community, and it is the way in which the local aspirations of the people can be realised. Local government has a deep history in Jamaica. In many municipalities, we have had local government for in excess of 200 years," he noted.
Holness said that local government is evolving, and that certain changes have been made to the constitution to make the process an established part of government.
He noted, however, that it is not just the constitutional arrangements that have to change but "we have to ensure that people understand the importance of local government and understand the direction in which we are trying to take with it".
As such, he is urging the junior mayors to help with the transformation of their communities and educate citizens about the importance of local government.
"Local government is and should be the closest government to the people. It is the people at the local level who have decided to come together to manage their affairs.
"Local government is...less about politics, more about service delivery and ensuring that the service is of the highest quality and that there is seamless delivery. It is the closest government to the people, so it's about being accessible and being there to assist the needs of the people who you serve," Mr. Holness pointed out.
Local Government and Community Development Minister, Desmond McKenzie, said the ministry will be making $500,000 available to each municipality to finance the junior mayors' projects.
"Over the years, we have seen where the funds provided for the Junior Mayors project have been executed in a way that the municipalities and the institutions have benefited significantly. This year, we can safely say that we have one of the finest crops of youth mayors. If you notice, there are students from primary schools participating, and this is something we have encouraged over the years," he said.
The recently installed youth mayors are:
• Knox College student Kenrick Hanson for Clarendon
• Ricardo Mitchell, a student at the University of the West Indies, Mona, for St Catherine
• Shanay Byfield, a student of Bethlehem All-Age and Infant School , for St Elizabeth
• Green Island Primary School student Jakayla Patterson for Hanover
• Shahae Campbell, a student of William Knibb Memorial High School, for Trelawny
• Chamoy Royes, a student of Holmwood Technical High School, for Manchester
• Jhenelle Small, a student of the Manning's School, for Westmoreland
• Suzanna Hyde, a student of Mount Alvernia High School, for St James
• Britney Gray, a student of St. Hilda's Diocesan High School, for St Ann
• Mark Graham, a student of St. Mary High School, for St Mary
• Machelle Irving, a student of Morant Bay High School, for St Thomas
• Sherissa Pinnock, a student of Cedar Grove Primary School, for Portmore
• Shadine McLean, a student of Titchfield High School, for Portland
• Campion College student Anna-Kay Hudson, for Kingston and St Andrew