APNU representative Sharma Solomon is expected to be voted in as the new Chairman of the Region 10 Regional Democratic Council (RDC) when elections are held today.
Solomon, 32, is one of representatives identified by APNU, PPP/C and AFC to serve on the 18-member RDC, which will not include long serving Chairman Mortimer Mingo and Vice Chairman Samuel Hooper.
According to an official document seen by the Stabroek News, which was addressed to the Regional Executive Officer, from Chief Elections Commissioner of Registration Gocool Boodoo, those identified to serve on the RDC are: Valerie Rosanna Adams, Leon Barrett, Maurice Butters, Franklin Augustus Carew, Stanley McKinley Collins, Diana Dolphin, Douglas Charles Gittins, Leslie Ransford Gonsalves, Byron Wilmot Lewis, Charles Clarence Sampson, Kuice Sharma Solomon and Gerald Whittington for APNU; Phillip Noel Fordyce, Compton Ovid Fraser and Carmen Leslyn Rambarran for the PPP/C; and Elroy Adolph and Audwin Rutherford for the AFC.
Although Mingo said that he could not comment on his likely successor, sources have indicated that Solomon would be elected to the office of Regional Chairman, while there seems to be contention between Franklin Augustus Carew and Leslie Gonsalves over the vice chairmanship.
Solomon said that while he would be the youngest person ever to serve in the senior seat for Region 10, he expects that residents and all stakeholders would join the new RDC members in addressing issues as they crop up, and not contend with persons and personalities. He also said that despite the fact that the council would comprise representatives from the three parties, they would be working together with the common goal of collectively bringing Region 10 together.
Meanwhile, Adams has confirmed that she had indicated officially to APNU that she is no longer interested in sitting on the RDC, after having served two previous terms. During those periods, she served as the chairperson for the Regional Welfare and Women Affairs, Finance, and Rights of the Child committees and she was the RDC’s representative on the Regional Tender Board.
“I have indicated to them in my letter that my decision is for personal reasons,” the newly-wedded Adams said, while adding that she wanted to devote more time to her family, religion, among other things. Efforts to contact senior members of APNU on who is likely to replace Adams were unsuccessful, but businesswoman Mayfield Greene has been touted as the likely replacement, since there must be 1/3 female representation on the council according to regulations. Adams and Byron Wilmot Lewis for the PNCR, and Compton Ovid Fraser of the AFC are the only persons who served on the two last RDCs that were elected to return. Gerald Whittington, who sat previously for the AFC, will now be representing APNU.
Mingo makes way
Meanwhile, in an interview, Mingo said that the time had come for him to make way for a new face and a younger person to take up the post. He noted that it was never his intention to hold the regional chairmanship for more than six months, but he added that he is proud of having served well.
“One should never hug an office, for the want of a better word… no matter how good you think you are, [there are] always people out there who could always improve on what you would have done while you were in office and the only way for that to happen is by making way for people to come in, and especially I am talking here about younger people who might perhaps have the zeal and the courage and whose only motivation is to be of service to the people,” he said, while adding that office holders must put service to the people above self.
Mingo said that the highlight of his tenure was the development of a comprehensive Regional Development Strategy, which he said was the first of its kind to have been put together for any single region. However, he admitted that he was disappointed that the strategy could not have been implemented without parliamentary approval and as a result it has been gathering dust in the decision-makers hands for seven years without even being tabled.
Some of the proposals from the strategy have been integrated into the region’s annual budgetary programme over the years. “The document is still workable, but would need to [be] review[ed] tweaked a bit to suit the present circumstances, as it was intended it should have been reviewed on a yearly basis, but it is still a workable document that I would recommend to the seventh Council of the RDC,” Mingo said.
The outgoing chairman also said he is proud of the relationship that he has developed with the people over the years, and especially with those at the grassroots level.
He also pointed to significant development in the areas of health, education and the social sectors in the region. He highlighted the furnishing of over 90% of schools with trained teachers, the construction of health posts and schools in almost all the riverrain communities, the extension of existing health centres, especially in Linden, the beefing-up of the Upper Demerara Hospital at Wismar, the improvement in the availability of medical supplies at the hospitals, the expansion and upgrading of the Ituni Medical Outpost, among the developments that took place under his leadership.
Mingo said that although he is leaving the RDC, he will be available to offer assistance and guidance to the new council if needed. He added that he is not leaving the region, since Linden will always be his home. He intends to focus on farming, which is one of his passions from his younger days. In addition, he plans to set up an organisation that will focus on issues that cannot be left entirely in the hands of the government, for example, improving the livelihood of the increasing number of senior citizens in Linden, who are living under extreme and difficult circumstances.