APNU councillor Pandit Ubraj Narine was elected Mayor of Georgetown when the new council was sworn in at City Hall yesterday, with fellow APNU councilman Alfred Mentore selected as his deputy.
They will take up their posts on January 1st. Narine, who won the Constituency One seat at the November 12th local government elections, was nominated by APNU councillor Ivelaw Henry, with support from incumbent Mayor Patricia Chase-Green.
Chase-Green, who leaves office following a controversial two years at the helm of the council, advised Narine to be careful.
“We have placed you there as a young man to shine. I would advise you that not every smile, not every skin teeth is laugh and not every shut-eye is sleep…there are many wolves in sheep’s clothing. I tell you that from experience. You will sit around a horseshoe table with 29 other people and you will gain your experience daily,” she said, before adding that she would offer him 100% support as he navigates his new post.
With the blessing of PNCR Chairperson Volda Lawrence, who is Chairperson of the party’s Georgetown district, Narine’s election was a mere formality. The PNCR is the main component of APNU, which holds 21 of the 30 council seats.
Prior to the voting, the PPP/C’s Bisham Kuppen attempted to move a motion that votes for the positions of Mayor and Deputy Mayor be cast via secret ballot. According to the motion, which was seconded by Dion Younge, also of the PPP/C, the ballots, once cast, should be counted with a representative from each party as witness.
It was clear from the loud proclamation of “no” even before the vote that the motion would have failed. Subsequently, the 21 APNU councillors, defeated the combined vote of six PPP/C and two AFC councillors who were in favour of the motion.
Voting, therefore, proceeded by a show of hands and nominations were accepted. Henry nominated Narine and Younge nominated Kuppen with support from party colleague Nalissa Ferguson. Ayodele Roache, of the AFC, attempted to nominate her colleague Michael Leonard but the two seats held by the AFC was not enough to field a candidate without support from one of the larger blocs, which it did not receive.
Once nominations were closed by APNU’s Clayton Hinds and Heston Boswick, Narine’s nomination was tabled and received 21 votes in support. The six PPP/C councillors voted against it, while the AFC abstained.
Kuppen’s nomination was the reverse with the six PPP/C councillors voting in favour while the 21 APNU councillors voted against. The AFC once again abstained.
In accepting the position of Mayor-elect, Narine was keen to declare his loyalty to his party and constituency in that order while thanking Lawrence for her support and faith in his abilities.
“I’m a proud member of the People’s National Congress Reform,” he said before explaining that Cummingsburg, and by extension Georgetown, was his home which he believes must be shared and respected.
“Our home must be welcoming to visitors whether neighbours near or far. Our home must be safe and the affairs of our home, managed in an honest, transparent and fair manner. My vision for our home, I’m sure, coincides with your vision for it, thus we must speak to each other and reach across the aisle of politics, race, religion and creed and engage our thoughts and arrive at consensus,” Narine emphasised. He promised to face head-on, the challenges of a ballooning budgetary deficit, late payment and non-payment of staff, hundreds of millions in mounting debts to private contractors, and the struggle of collection of rates and taxes.
Noting that the environment must be protected, that residents must be given services that are uncompromisingly excellent, and businesses must thrive while the young are provided with opportunities for their talents and energies, Narine said that he looks forward to working with all councillors to realise the plans and vision they have advocated.
Meanwhile, Mentore, one of the few councillors from the 2016 council to return, was nominated by Councillor Gregory Fraser for the position of Deputy Mayor, while Younge was nominated by Kuppen and Roache by Leonard. Roache’s nomination was not seconded and therefore not accepted.
By the time these nominations were closed, the AFC reps appeared to have accepted their outlier status and chose to vote with APNU. Mentore, therefore, received 23 votes, while six were recorded against his nomination.
In nominating the members of the all-important Finance Committee, acting Town Clerk Sharon Harry-Munroe deviated from the most recent practice of only entertaining single nominations at a time and allowed councillor Heston Boswick to nominate councillors Chase-Green, Mentore, Henry, Oscar Clarke, Yvonne Ferguson, and Trichia Richards en bloc. A similar en bloc nomination was received from Nalissa Ferguson of the PPP/C in favour of Younge, Kuppen and Dimitri Ali.
Once the dust cleared following an hour during which both the acting Town Clerk and the Mayor-elect struggled to find their footing, the members of the committee were identified as Clarke, Chase-Green, Mentore, Ferguson, Henry, Richards and Kuppen.
Clarke will again chair the Finance Committee, while Chase-Green will be vice-chair.
The 30 councillors who will sit at the horseshoe-shaped table from January 1st, 2019 to December 31st, 2021 include the Proportional Represen-tation councillors David Allicock, Eon Bollers, Oscar Clarke, Eketa Edwards, Dexter Forte, Cynthia Stewart, Mark Griffith, Clayton Hinds and John Vanveen of APNU, Michael Leonard and Ayodele Roache of the AFC as well as Bisham Kuppen, Coleen Sampson, Dion Younge and Patrick De Santos of the PPP/C. DeSantos, who was absent due to illness, is set to be sworn in at a later date.
The 15 First-Past-the-Post councillors are Ubraj Narine, Alfred Mentore, Akeem Peters, Ivelaw Henry, Gregory Fraser, Shonelle Smith-Daniels, Heston Bostwick, Yvonne Ferguson, Patricia Chase-Green, Trichria Richards, Denroy Tudor and Cilesia Hall of APNU, along with Nalissa Ferguson, Dimitri Ali and Param Persaud of the PPP/C.