Homer Davis creates history - First mayor of Montego Bay to be elected MP and appointed minister
When Homer Edward Davis, the former mayor of Montego Bay, took the oath of office as a member of parliament (MP) for St James Southern at King’s House last Monday, he became the first local government politician from the parish to not only become chairman at the constituency level but to also be appointed to a ministerial role.
Davis, who is also now the minister of state in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, accomplished the historical feat by defeating Dr Walton Small of the People’s National Party (PNP) for the vacant St James Southern seat by a margin of 1,948 votes. Davis got 7,223 votes to Small’s 5,275.
“It is a great achievement because previously we were told that there is a jinx on persons (in St James) who wanted to move from the mayoral position up to MP,” Councillor Leeroy Williams, Davis’ successor, chairman and mayor of the St James Municipal Corporation, told The Sunday Gleaner.
“That was never done before so he has created a bit of history, and I am happy because it will inspire not just mayors but other councillors moving forward.”
Veteran journalist and publisher Lloyd B. Smith, a former MP for St James Central, believes Davis’ elevation will be beneficial, not just for St James but the entire western region.
“We are happy for him and we are going to stand behind him to make sure that he succeeds,” Smith said. “I have always admired his tenacity and willingness to stand out even when he would have made an unpopular decision, but he always does this in what he deems is the best interest of the city and the parish.”
He continued, “We expect him to represent us well in Parliament. This has been lacking over the years, but with his kind of proactive approach and his willingness to stand in the bridge, I am expecting that he will play that role, notwithstanding he is now at a national level.
“Not that we expect him to go there and curry favour for us, but at some time we expect that he will ensure that whatever we deserve, we’ll get because there is still this perception in the wider political body that Kingston is Jamaica, and very often those municipalities and constituencies that are not in the Corporate Area at times are not taken into the mix.”
THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM
Davis, who became mayor in 2016, is among three former mayors of Montego Bay to have contested a parliamentary election. The other two were Hugh Solomon and Noel Donaldson, who were nominated and ran for a seat in Gordon House but failed in their bid.
Noel Donaldson made two attempts. He lost to Derrick Kellier in 2007 when he contested for the St James Southern seat on the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) ticket; and again to Edmund Bartlett, in the 2016 general election, this time for the PNP in the St James East Central seat.
Hugh Solomon, who served as mayor of Montego Bay from 1998 to 2003, under a PNP majority in the St James municipality, also failed when he lost to attorney-at-law Clive Mullings in a contest for the St James West Central seat in 2002. He also praised Davis for the work he did as mayor.
“I want to congratulate Homer Davis for the work he has done as mayor of Montego Bay. He has worked hard in South St James to be elevated to the office of a member of parliament and as a minister of government, and I hope he continues to serve his people and his constituents,” Solomon told The Sunday Gleaner via telephone from overseas.
“I ran for MP and was not successful and I have decided to just move on. I think more people need to take my cue. You not successful, instead of staying and becoming outdated, you move on.”
BROKE THE TREND
Two former mayors of Montego Bay, Charles Sinclair Jr and Glendon Harris, agree that Davis’ new role will benefit the municipalities across the country.
“His ministerial role is quite in line with his 13 years’ experience as a councillor and most recently as head of the St James Municipal Corporation. We expect him to do well,” Harris said. “Now that the trend is broken, people will rise to become MP, thanks to Davis for paving the way.”
Deputy president of the Senate, Senator Charles Sinclair, said Davis has worked extremely hard in ensuring that the city of Montego Bay operates how a city ought to, and that he has a lot to give in service.
“I served as mayor between 2007 and 2012, and I am in a good capacity to determine the level of work Homer Davis has done, and I gave him an A+ as chairman of the corporation and mayor of Montego Bay,” Sinclair said.
“In St James, it seems that when you take up the position of mayor and seek to make the upward step, it has always been a challenge and history would have revealed that.”
According to Sinclair, Davis’ transition from the mayor to an MP and minister of state reflects the hard work and his stick-to-it-iveness within a constituency.
“He made two attempts before and was not successful but he stuck with the people and showed his commitment to the people of Southern St James, and that speaks volumes for somebody in political life,” he said. “I am happy that the prime minister has seen the value of his work and has appointed him as a state minister in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.”
He said while Davis was chairman, he ensured that several rural communities in St James were able to access potable water, who before then had no access for as much as 30 years in communities like Flower Hill and Somerton, among other rural parishes.