SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth — Members of the St Elizabeth Municipal Corporation are mourning the loss of former Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) councillor for the Santa Cruz Division, Stallyn Brown, who died at hospital early Thursday morning after a long illness. He was 58.
In 2013 a massive stroke effectively left Brown incapacitated, though he remained as councillor until the Local Government Election of 2016. He had represented the Santa Cruz Division — the only one controlled by the JLP in St Elizabeth North Eastern — since 1998. In the 2016 Local Government Election, Christopher Williams retained the Santa Cruz Division for the JLP.
Reached by telephone on Friday, Williams and his more experienced colleagues from both sides of the political divide feelingly described Brown as a dedicated, “caring” people’s representative who tried his utmost to meet the needs of people in the Santa Cruz Division regardless of “whether they were JLP or PNP”.
Without exception, councillors contacted by the Jamaica Observer described Brown as a generous, “wonderful” human being and peacemaker who strenuously avoided “tribalist” politics, and went beyond the call of duty to help newcomers to the council with no consideration of their political affiliation.
“He was the one who showed me the ropes when I came to the council in 2003,” said Donovan Pagon (PNP) of Brae’s River Division while Audie Myers (PNP) Siloah Division said Brown was his “teacher”.
The councillors had also paid glowing tributes to their fallen colleague at Thursday’s monthly meeting of the municipal corporation in Black River.
Williams told the Sunday Observer that Brown was the man who introduced him to politics in 2006 and recommended him to the JLP executive as his (Brown’s) natural successor.
Beyond that, Williams hailed Brown as an “honest, caring, loyal person” who had a positive impact on the lives of many people in his political division and elsewhere. “Nobody I know ever had anything bad to say about Stallyn Brown,” Williams said.
Mayor of Black River Derrick Sangster (JLP), Mountainside Division; and former mayors Everton Fisher (PNP), Balaclava Division; Jeremy Palmer (JLP), Pedro Plains Division; and councillors George Powell (JLP) of Lacovia, Cetany Holness (JLP) of Junction as well as Pagon and Myers spoke of Brown’s dislike for conflict and his overwhelming willingness to embrace peace and conciliation.
“Stallyn not into nuh quarrel with anybody,” said Pagon.
Several councillors recalled that Brown held such abhorrence for confrontation, controversy and “contention” that he would sometimes leave the meeting when he felt it was descending into meaningless disputes, only returning when he felt matters had quieted down.
Powell spoke of Brown as someone who was always above the fray. “Any argument at all, he would try to quash it,” he said.
“He [Brown] showed us how political representation should be and how as political representatives we should act,” said Powell.
Noting that the St Elizabeth Municipal Corporation (previously St Elizabeth Parish Council) has had a long history of good relations across political lines, Palmer said Brown always seemed to set an “example” and to lead the way towards harmony — regardless of the issue.
Fisher said that when he took over as mayor of Black River and chairman of the council in 2012, after the PNP’s local government victory of that year, it was Brown who helped him to “tone down” and to avoid any semblance of bias. “Stallyn guided and helped me,” said Fisher.
The former mayor expressed satisfaction that councillors from both political sides joined hands in ensuring that Brown was “properly cared for” after he fell ill.
Sangster applauded Brown’s representation of the Santa Cruz Division, describing him as a “grass roots politician who knew his division like the back of his hand”, displaying “great kindness and attentiveness” to his constituents. “He worked tirelessly for his people,” said Sangster.
Holness echoed those sentiments. “The sitting councillor [Williams] have some big shoes to fill,” quipped Holness.