NS elects district council board

Premier to be notified of results

The votes have been tallied, the ballots burned and the North Side District Council has its 2011 slate of officers and directors.

More than 40 North Side residents turned out on Thursday night to continue the work of their district council, which began in 2009.

Chairman Alex Johnson was re-elected and she said she would send in the names of the individuals chosen by balloting or acclamation: Andy McCoy, deputy chairman; Thelda Whittaker, secretary; Carol Scott, treasurer; and Chantelle Whittaker, L. Stanley Panton and Patricia Ebanks, directors.

Asked about the likelihood of the Governor in Cabinet adopting the voters’ choices or adding to them, Mrs. Johnson referred to correspondence she has had with Premier McKeeva Bush, in which he wrote that council members will include people nominated from the opposition party, the ruling party, independents and the public.

The Advisory District Councils Law, passed in January, provides for four officers and other members, not exceeding six.

Further, the law does not mention independents. It says that if an electoral district does not have a Member of the Legislative Assembly who belongs to the party whose leader has been appointed Premier, the party shall be entitled to nominate up to three members of that district’s council.

North Side MLA Ezzard Miller, the district’s only representative, is not a member of either the ruling United Democratic Party or the opposition People’s Progressive Movement. He campaigned for the General Elections in 2009 as an independent candidate and the establishment of district councils was one of the issues he favoured.

On Thursday night at the Craddock Ebanks Civic Centre, he conducted the elections for the council board, explaining that he would not himself nominate anyone or vote for anyone. Each position was voted on separately.

Ballot papers were distributed and voters wrote in the name of their preferred candidate.

The ballots were then collected in an opaque box and delivered to those who would tally the votes.

Michele McGuire and Gigi De Guzman, both from the district business community, counted the votes and delivered results to Mr. Miller. All ballots were burned immediately after the meeting, Teddy Ebanks reported.

Mr. Miller congratulated everyone who had been elected and pledged to work with them to the best of his ability for the good of North Side and the Cayman Islands as a whole. He said the council had done some good work, but there was much more to do.

Asked later what he thought might happen now that the structure of a district council has been put into law, he said the North Side Council had been successful: “It should function as it has always functioned.”

The Premier will take nominations to Cabinet, he explained. Then there are two choices: the Premier could do what North Side asks him to do and appoint the seven people elected or he could appoint anyone he chooses, Mr. Miller said. The Advisory District Councils Law does say that a member of council must be a suitable person who resides in the district.

The law also states that the Governor in Cabinet “shall be cognizant of the recommendations made to him from within the electoral districts.

The North Side District Council differs slightly from the structure set out in the law. In North Side, the council has been generally considered to be the residents who are interested enough to come to monthly meetings. The officers and directors are referred to as the executive board.

The law does require that meetings of the council shall be open to the public. In North Side, the executive board meets once per month and the public meeting is set for later in the month.

Mrs. Johnson announced after the elections that public meetings will be held on the third Thursday of each month, while the new executive will meet for the first time on Thursday, 7 April.

On Friday, Government Information Services sent out a release advising that the Constitutional Commission will begin a series of district public meetings, starting in North Side on Thursday, 7 April, at the North Side Civic Centre at 7pm.