By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Former President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) and Founder of the new social change organization – Blue CAPS, Clinton Urling is adamant that citizens should be allowed to directly elect their Mayors.
Speaking at a Public Forum on Tuesday at the Pegasus Hotel, Georgetown, Urling expressed the view that the crafters of the new local government laws should have made provisions that will allow for citizens to directly elect their Mayors.
“I personally think they made a mistake.”
Presently, Guyana’s local government laws do not allow for one to directly elect a Mayor. Citizens can elect Councillors who will then elect a Mayor.
Urling stated too, that the powers of the Local Government Commission to appoint and reject appointments of high ranking officials in the Council should to be given to the Mayor.
“He or she should have the prerogative to hire whom he or she seems fit to execute their mandate, as opposed to a local government commission dictating who they should hire and when they should fire and all sorts of other responsibilities,” Urlingsaid, adding that “the system only perpetuates and continues the dominant party system that exists in Guyana.”
He added that the important responsibility is shifted from the council and presents some discrepancy where an individual, who would have contested and won a seat in the council would be overwhelmed by the ‘majority rules’ politics of the council.
On a separate note, Commissioner of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Vincent Alexander registered his concerns about appointing an Executive Mayor.
According to him, this would not only produce an autocratic approach to local government and municipal governance, but would deflate the value of people’s involvement, in the democracy that Guyana is trying to build.
He said “in any local government system, there are strong mayors who are directly elected by the people with a responsibility to the citizens for the conduct of the affairs of an elected council; similarly there are weak mayors who operate as the principal councillor among a council of equals.”
Alexander, who is a member of the Task Force for the Local Government reform process made clear that he was not an advocate for the Executive Mayor.
In your piece “Citizens should elect their Mayor directly” you failed to do due diligence and attribute to Mark Benschop the idea that citizens should be allowed to directly elect their Mayor.
Mr. Benschop, in declaring his candidacy for Mayor of Georgetown, published his presentation in both leading newspapers. He said “It is time for the Local Laws to be changed so that the chief executives of municipalities are directly elected by the citizens of those localities.”
Omitting mention of Mr. Benschop’s previous published presentation amounts to plagiarism of his position without giving him the credit for it.