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Mayor of Kingston, Councillor Desmond McKenzie has challenged the 40 newly elected members of the Council, to carry out their responsibilities to the people in their divisions with fervour and without political favour.
The 40 councillors took the Oath of Office on (January 8), at the offices of the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation in downtown Kingston.
Councillor McKenzie, who was speaking at the swearing-in ceremony, called for a non-partisan and inclusive approach in their representation. “Remember, we do not only represent those who support us. We represent all who fall within our borders,” the Mayor reminded.
He reiterated the importance of councillors attending meetings, and pointed out that this alone would not be enough. “It is your approach to your job and the contributions that you make to the debates that are important,” he said.
The Mayor also called for a restoration of dignified behaviour among members, while making critical decisions in Council. “We can do it in a dignified manner. We don’t have to be at each other’s throat to make our points,” he emphasized.
“We have already set new standards since 2003, and nothing less is expected in this new term. Let us now consolidate those gains, because the people of Kingston and St. Andrew are expecting no less from us,” he added.
The Mayor told the eight new councillors from both Opposition and Government that it would not be “a bed of roses.”
“Some of you may think that your job ended when you were re-elected on December 5. Well, you have another guess coming. You have been given an opportunity by the people to show what you can do for them. I am urging you today to do everything you can to fulfill that mandate and validate their trust in you,” Mayor McKenzie challenged.
He noted that the Council has a critical role in aiding the process of local government reform. “Municipalities that are properly financed and monitored can reduce the pressures on Central Government and empower people at the community level to have a greater say in how their problems are tackled and resolved. However, for this to work there has to be a significant paradigm shift. The public will have to accept that they have a greater responsibility in demanding accountability from the Council and the councillors,” the Mayor said.
Mr. McKenzie also charged the society to become more involved in their government, holding it accountable, so that “the society becomes stronger, more compassionate and better prepared for the challenges of the future.”
Minority Leader, Councillor Angela Brown-Burke in her remarks, pledged to “serve the people with sincerity, honesty, integrity with no regard for political affiliation, ill will or partiality.”
She also spoke of the need for the Council to maintain transparency and demanded that the Council fast forward plans to establish a website, so that all the Council’s transactions could be posted publicly.
Mayor McKenzie informed that he has instructed the Town Clerk to have the website up and running by the end of February.