A sotto voce remark by Kingston Mayor Senator Delroy Williams that Tuesday’s monthly meeting of the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) would be the last before local government elections has sparked speculation among councillors that the poll will be held on February 29.
How the councillors arrived at the date is still puzzling, but Mayor Williams’ benediction-like closing remarks, as well as the fact the council meets on the second Tuesday of each month, fuelled the speculation even more.
“We wish you all the best and we wish for your re-election. I know you are very decent campaigners, so welcome to the camaraderie and the high level of decency involved in the campaign activities. But if I don’t get that opportunity to do it again because the election is called, I take the opportunity to say to you all, all the best,” Williams told the meeting at KSAMC building on Church Street, downtown Kingston.
Local government elections, which are constitutionally due every four years, were last held in November 2016. They were due to be held in November 2020 but were postponed as the country was still in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was notwithstanding the fact that a general election was held two months earlier, in September that year.
In February last year, legislators in both Houses of Parliament put through the Representation of the People (Postponement of Elections to Municipal Corporation and City Municipalities) Act, 2023, which postponed the election until February 2024, to allow further time for continued public consultation on draft legislation to enable Portmore to become Jamaica’s 15th parish.
Last August, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, responding to queries from the Jamaica Observer at a press conference at his office, intimated that only an unexpected external event could prevent the holding of the election in February 2024.
Under the Representation of the People Act, nomination day must be scheduled a minimum of five days and a maximum of seven days after the announcement of an election. Additionally, there must be a minimum of 16 days and a maximum of 23 days between nomination and election days.
At the end of Tuesday’s hour-long meeting of the council, Mayor Williams met with journalists and told them that the Jamaica Labour Party’s focus is to get the municipal poll out of the way.
“…then we can move on to continue our vision for the transformation of Kingston. Our vision has been very clear, and we have been pursuing that path for the transformation of Kingston and the repartitioning of Kingston into a destination or a tourism city,” Williams said.
“We have been pursuing that task, and although it is not going at the pace I would have liked we are still making significant progress towards this and we will continue to pursue that massive infrastructure that we believe is necessary as we go along the path,” he said.