The Municipality of Portmore has a new Mayor. He is Mr. George Lee, who was sworn in on April 2, at a ceremony, held at the Portmore HEART Academy, in St. Catherine.
This is Mr. Lee’s second stint as Mayor, after he polled 15,011 votes in the recent Local Government elections, defeating former Mayor, Keith Hinds who got 8,287 votes and independent candidate, Alrick Davis, who garnered 216 votes.
The Mayor was installed along with the 10 Councillors for the Portmore Municipality, while Councillor of the Hellshire Division, Leon Thomas was elected Vice Chairman, following a short nomination process.
In his address, Mayor Lee told the audience that there is “much work to do." He noted that among his main concerns are the further infrastructural development of the Portmore community and the issue of job creation.
"We have to deal with the roads, the drains, the mosquitoes and the environment. We have to complete our development plan, but beyond that, there must be a more holistic vision of the growth and development of the Sunshine City,” he said.
He pointed out that job creation is at the top of his list of priorities for “the next few months,” as a modern municipality cannot think solely about "fixing the roads and cleaning the drains."
"We have to think about the quality of life of people and the human condition, providing care for those who need care,” the Mayor argued.
Mr. Lee explained that a major part of his job creation plan is to continue to attract businesses to the Portmore community, including finalising plans for “the much talked about” Portmore Hospital. He informed that he recently met with individuals from South Korea and Europe to discuss the feasibility of the hospital.
“That hospital is now becoming a reality at last and it will provide jobs for the people of Portmore, as well as quality medical care,” he noted.
Mr. Lee also informed that he would be looking at the development of two small business complexes in Gregory Park and Braeton.
He reminded the Councillors to be conscious of their obligations to the citizens of Portmore. “I ask you to believe in transparency, be humble and respectful. Listen to the people and be visible to them in the communities that you serve,” he emphasised.
The Mayor also cautioned them not to embrace the mindset that they are “bosses of the people,” rather than servants of the people. “We must be accountable and fight against corruption,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott, in congratulating the new Mayor, noted that the establishment of the Municipality of Portmore has been widely regarded as a significant milestone in the development of Jamaica’s local governance system.
"Portmore can be proud of many things, including a few firsts, such as the first directly elected Mayor in Jamaica and indeed the English speaking Caribbean,” he said.
The Minister informed that he would be working assiduously to ensure that the political boundaries for Portmore are reviewed and adjusted in line with the amended Electoral Act, which saw the re-alignment of constituency boundaries for the General Elections.
“When the boundaries were re-aligned for General Elections, simultaneously the boundaries for the municipality should have been realigned, but there was an oversight and therefore there is a technicality,” he said.
He informed that the matter is now before the Attorney General, who will be giving his pronouncements on the issue in a short time. “I give you my assurance that I will not rest until that matter is taken care of,” he said.
The ceremony was attended by a large number of guests, which included: Custos of St. Catherine, Hon. Sophia Azan; Member of Parliament, St. Catherine South Eastern, Hon. Colin Fagan; Member of Parliament, St. Catherine Southern, Fitz Jackson; Member of Parliament, St. Catherine East Central, Hon. Arnaldo Brown; Mayor of Kingston, Senator Angella Brown Burke and outgoing Mayor of Portmore, Keith Hinds.
By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker, JIS Reporter