Pine-McLarty served with distinction

Pine-McLarty served with distinction

Monday, March 30, 2020

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Dear Editor,

Dorothy Pine-McLarty recently retired as chairman of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) having served for a total of 19 years, starting from her appointment to the Electoral Advisory Committee (EAC) in December 2000. This makes her the longest-serving member and chairman of Jamaica's electoral management bodies — a record that will not be easily surpassed.

But it is not only the length of her service that is outstanding, but more so its quality, integrity, and steadfastness. Seldom absent from meetings, always calm, composed and dignified, Pine-McLarty could be relied upon to bring wisdom, discretion, and balance to discussions, which were sometimes heated and acrimonious.

The EAC/ECJ is the most innovative and successful creation of the Jamaican Parliament and people since our political independence in 1962. It has features that are almost unique in the world. It is the creature of the wisdom of the officers of the constitution, namely the prime minister, leader of the Opposition and governor general in selecting its members. It is sustained not only by adhering to the constitution and laws but, equally important, by conventions and norms voluntarily practised by commissioners, politicians and Parliament over the last forty years. It operates on consensus having contended with division, diversity, and deep differences.

The primary role of the chairman is to keep the body together by engendering trust by all sides. Pine-McLarty faithfully supported the trust efforts of previous chairmen for 12 years and led brilliantly and unwaveringly in building trust for seven years. She did both with poise, perspicacity, and prudence in private and in public.

It would be remiss to omit two other facets of Pine-McLarty's remarkable service to the electoral system and Jamaica. First, in opening her lovely home to small and large gatherings of people of divergent views to experience and enjoy table fellowship. Food eaten around tables often make differences more digestible through experiences of common humanity. By the way, the food at the McLarty's home was always very good. At all these gatherings Pine-McLarty was the consummate host. Second, is the support of her husband, Herman McLarty, and their wonderful daughter and son, not only generally but specifically in hosting gatherings and in working in polling stations in volatile communities, testifying to shared family commitment to our country and its electoral system.

I had heard about this outstanding lady, but only met her for the first time in December 2000. My family and I are blessed by her friendship and that of her family. We salute Pine-McLarty for having done such an incredible job and for setting such an excellent example.

Professor Errol Miller

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