Duncan’s absences from city council meetings under scrutiny

Sherod Duncan

Sherod Duncan’s attendance at Georgetown City Council meetings became a talking point at Monday’s statutory meeting, which heard that he had possibly “disqualified” himself from continuing to serve as a councillor due to his absences.

At Monday’s meeting it was brought to the attention of the council by acting Mayor Akeem Peter that Duncan has been absent from three consecutive meetings without excuse, which disqualified him from the post of councillor.

Duncan has, however, indicated to Stabroek News that he was out of the jurisdiction and had sent his excuses with a colleague, whom he did not identify. He also explained that he did not know that he could be disqualified and he said he would be looking into the matter.

Akeem Peter

A report from the Legal Affairs Committee, which Duncan chairs, was brought to Monday’s Statutory meeting for discussion but when questions were raised about the quality of the report attention was drawn to the fact that Duncan was for the third consecutive time absent without excuse.  Peter, who chaired Monday’s meeting since Mayor Patricia Chase-Green was out of the jurisdiction, called on Town Clerk Royston King to advise council as to the way forward.

In responding, King explained that the law disqualifies Duncan from continuing to be a councillor but he added that he would first communicate with Duncan and the rest of the Council in writing before making a pronouncement.

Article 46 of the Municipal and District Councils Act directs that any councillor who, without first having obtained a leave of absence, absents themselves from three consecutive ordinary meetings of the council or from any meeting of council for a period of two months, whichever period is longer, shall become disqualified from continuing to be a councillor.

Since the last three council meetings have occurred over a period of five weeks, Duncan has not been absent for the longer period of two months provided he has been present for all other meetings held, including special meetings.

Asked by Stabroek News if he had contacted Duncan at any point to warn him he was in danger of losing his seat, King noted that he would have to check his records to ascertain the status of Duncan and other councillors with regard to attendance, after which he will act according to the law.

Over the last three months, Stabroek News has noted chronic absences by several councillors at the fortnightly meetings. The situation threatened to derail the Monday’s meeting, which was delayed as a quorum was not present at the scheduled time.

A mere 13 of the 28 councillors were present when the meeting was finally called to order and three others arrived later.  

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