I did not know Councillor Junior Garrett prior to the local government elections (LGE) of 2016. I had heard the name a few times, but to be honest, I hadn’t paid much attention. Then Deputy Mayor Patricia Chase-Green had told patrons at a Mayor & City Council consultation at the National Cultural Centre, that the citizens of Georgetown had become indifferent to City Hall pre 2016 LGE and I guess in a way it described me.
When LGE was held I heard the Councillor won his constituency. I was eager to meet him and when I did, I was not disappointed. In my mind, I had come to see our esteemed colleague as perhaps the ‘bull dog’ of his party at local government, the chief whip, if you may.
I sat back many times and watched the theatre in the chamber unfold: Councillor Heston Bostwick would be the mover of whatever motion, ‘Motions Man’, Garrett would whip the troops into shape and Councillor Oscar Clarke would hold the line. It was a set piece which never failed.
Yet beyond the political theatre, Councillor Garrett like others around the noble table, was worth his weight in gold for his institutional memory, his rich experience as a City Councillor for over 15 years, and for his career as a professional accountant, talents and skills which he brought to bear on his work as a Councillor, I am certain.
Over the last two years I have had glimpses of the man Junior Garrett, the father, friend, comrade, and debater. We had glimpses of the person Junior Garrett to take the measure of the man, right down to the very end, the final hour.
On the morning of that terrible day which wrestled him from us, he sat in the chamber for the final time, interrogating the budget preparations, putting questions to the Finance Committee Chairman Oscar Clarke and the departments; and making profound, value statements, which I’m sure are immortalized in the minutes of that meeting.
The man and Councillor Junior Garrett was in fine form that morning; his skills and craft as a Councillor honed. He was in touch with the facts, full of energy and he trained all his efforts on his presentation. We did not know it then, but this was his final contribution as a Councillor to the chamber, his concluding act as a Councilman. When he left the chamber that fateful morning there was to be no return. Maybe, in a way, things are as they should be. Maybe, in a way, it is fitting for a man to die doing what he loved – what a final statement! What a curtain call!
When I saw his son by his body at the hospital, overwhelmed with grief, I thought of my own life in that moment, because with the dying of others we contemplate our own mortality. And I thought about my own life, how one day my sons will stand over my body. In a way it is fit
ting that sons should bury their fathers. It is an unnatural thing for fathers to bury their sons. God knows, too many fathers are interring their sons.
As councillors we shared a common bond. We each in our own way wanted what is best for our constituency and city. It is my hope that we honour his memory by the quality of work we continue to contribute in the chamber and in our communities.
As we remember the biblical injunction, “The harvest is plenty but the labourers are few,” I say farewell Councillor Junior Garrett. God speed to that great and shining city which does not need mayors or councillors, or sadly accountants. So take your much needed rest, and rest in peace.
Sherod Avery Duncan