The Linden Town Council voted overwhelmingly for Ms Arrindell and Mr Bethune to serve as mayor and deputy mayor, respectively, for the final year of council’s term. It is, arguably, one of the most critical decisions by any group of Lindeners in the history of Linden. The choices portend, possibly, a new relationship between the Linden Town Council (the people of Linden) and the PNCR. This decision suggests that Linden is finally ready to claim its unique promise and potential, reflective of the strength of its people, and not continue the decades-long march to the bottom.
To date, after two years in office, this council has been an abject and embarrassing failure. It has lost the interest and support of the citizens. Even among government agencies, Linden as seen as the sick child, the identified patient, the headache!
The 2016 LGE was to have been a catalyst for growth, an empowering of local communities, and, for some, a continuation of the ‘Village Movement.’ But, from the very start, even during the campaign there were troubling signs: President Granger, while campaigning in Linden along with the Prime Minister and the Attorney General, asked Lindeners to give the ruling coalition total control; they already controlled the national and regional governments. He suggested that the citizens of Linden should vote for “those who already had connections”.
The inimitable Phillip Bynoe once said, “even if the PNC puts up dog in Linden, they will win”. In 2016 the ruling coalition selected the mayoral candidate even before they had completed their slate of candidates. One councillor’s informal exit poll after the elections said that the citizens voted for the party/coalition, not the individuals. He was admonished for stating his findings on social media.
Recently at the local PNC Congress in Linden, a senior official claimed that the PNC has complete support in Linden. She used the results of the 2016 elections to support this assertion; the coalition got 15 of the 16 seats. And she further stated that the representative of the other group in the council is a PNC member so, in effect, “we control the whole thing”.
Therefore, apparently, the Linden community did accede to President Granger’s request.
Mayor Holland was ‘elected’ by all 16 councilors in March 2016. After less than a year in office, in December 2016, the tally was a revealing, 6 in favour, 5 abstentions, 3 absent and 2 against. And this was after the councillors were summoned to a meeting prior to the public vote. This year the councillors categorically rejected even the thought of his return as mayor for the last year of the term, in a secret vote.
Mr Holland was given a gift, and did not have the sense to use it wisely. He mistakenly felt that the ‘blessing’ of the national leadership was absolute.
Mr Holland’s tenure proved, convincingly, that he had neither the temperament, nor aptitude, nor leadership skills, nor instinct to lead the LM&TC at this critical stage of Linden/Guyana’s development. So it begs the question, why was he chosen; why were the councillors instructed to vote for him (twice) in 2016? With a total majority, why didn’t the ruling coalition allow the councillors the latitude/freedom to vote their conscience in deciding who will lead the council, as mayor?
At the introduction of this letter I asserted that the councillors’ decision was “arguably, one of the most critical decisions by any group of Lindeners in the history of Linden”. They rebelled and asserted their independence and right to serve the Linden community based on their conscience and knowledge. That the leadership of the PNCR acceded to their rejection of Mr Holland also suggested a different posture and a maturing of the relationship with the people of Linden.
Yes, the citizens voted for the party/coalition, but they expected that the coalition/party would act in the interest of the community, and to promote self-reliance and self-actualization, to assure continued growth within the community.
The above established the context for the following question: If the population voted for the party/coalition, what should be their (party/coalition) role in furthering good governance and development in Linden? And, I am making a distinction between the party and the government.