ST. THOMAS, Jamaica- We watch with utter concern the manner in which the administration at the St. Thomas Parish Council chooses to defy the law. Following the result of the recently-concluded Local Government Election, the St. Thomas Parish Council wound up with a 5-5 tie, with the Jamaica Labour Party having the popular vote. Under normal circumstances, the mayor would be a JLP representative while the deputy would be a member of the PNP caucus.
However, the residency of councilor-elect Dean Jones of the Yallahs Division, has been questionable. The Local Governance Act, 2016 states explicitly in the Eighth Schedule that:
(4) No person shall be capable of being elected a member of a Council or, having been so elected, shall sit or vote in a Council unless the person has resided in the area within the jurisdiction of the relevant Local Authority for twelve months immediately preceding the day of election.
This means that an individual who does not live in the parish is not qualified to be a representative in the Parish Council as is the case with Mr. Dean Jones who resides in Portmore, St. Catherine and not St. Thomas. Additionally, he is also a Judge Orderly by profession which prohibits him from running for political office. An election petition was filed in order to have the Chief Justice look into the case. Like the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation, the St. Thomas Municipal Council could have awaited but somehow there is the impression that the administration at the Municiap Council is rushing to get the Swearing-In Ceremony over and done with.
We will add that the Acting Secretary Manager of the Parish Council was served with the petition as a respondent. Does she have no regard for the law? Or, is it the usual vulgar politics at play? The Law of the Parish Council indicates that a Mayor cannot be changed for at least one year after he/she has been sworn in. The situation is a very sensitive case, in that; the court ruling could in fact influence the outcome of the governance of the St. Thomas Parish Council.
As young people, we are perturbed and disappointed to say the least. We are tired of people in authority manipulating the system in an attempt to push their agendas- whatever they may be. If, persons and institutions, who know better refuse to uphold the basic laws of the country then it is with sadness that we declare that the democracy in Jamaica Land We Love is being sabotaged.
Parish Chair (St. Thomas)