FREEPORT, G.B. – Byran S. Woodside, Minister of State for Lands and Local Government in the Office of the Prime Minister, was in Grand Bahama Monday, November 1 conducting a special historic swearing-in ceremony for two groups of Junior Local Government Councillors.
Taking the Oath of Office were nine students from the Sir Jack Hayward High School and nine from the St. Georges High School.
They were the two schools on Grand Bahama participating in the Local Government Junior Council Pilot Project. Elections were held last Thursday.
In addition to the two Grand Bahama based schools, other participants in the pilot project are the San Salvador High School, Abaco Central High School, R.N. Gomez School in the Berry Islands and the North Andros High School.
The swearing-in ceremony on Monday started at the St. Georges Gym, where hundreds of students from that school had assembled. The same took place at the Jack Hayward Gym, where Mr. Woodside encouraged the newly elected officials to work hard for the students, to meet their challenges and responsibilities head on with enthusiasm, integrity and high-minded public spirit.
Following a poll at the St. Georges High School last Thursday, the following persons were elected to office:- Laron Burrows, Rayvonne Campbell, Kahleah Carnegie, Esther Grant, Christina Cooper, Tonesa Munnings, Deborah Rolle, Shawndray Saunders and Davania Williams.
No balloting was necessary for students at the Sir Jack Hayward High School as only the required nine persons had nominated for office. The nine are Sastrie Adderley, Don Brown, Orville Jones, Jordan Marshall, Kenneth Miller, Florissa Pennerman, Stephanie Rolle, Mystique Saunders and Dorell Williams.
In offering his congratulations to the students at both schools, Mr. Woodside advised that the Junior Councillors project was first introduced in the City of Freeport and that the district is the only one that has two schools participating in the project.
He noted that the Jack Hayward High School stand apart as the Local Government Junior Councillors that have been elected unopposed.
“This signifies that the student body at this school through the nomination process identified the nine students they felt would best represent them and their views,” the Minister stated.
He further stated that the students who participated in the project thus far indicated their acceptance of the importance of the democratic form of government in The Bahamas.
“Democracy, and more specifically participatory democracy, is not without its faults, but it is the best system of governance that any country can have. It allows people to freely express how they wish to be governed by providing the opportunity for them to elect the person of their choice to represent them,” the Local Government Minister stated.
He reminded the newly elected Junior Councillors that during the project classes they would have been given the historical background to Majority Rule (One Man, One Vote) and representative government in The Bahamas.
“However, the most important lessens that the entire student body would have learnt during the last five weeks would have been the importance of the local and national election process as well as the courage and character it takes to offer oneself for service,” he stated.
Continuing he told students at both institutions that their participation in the nomination process and being elected is an indication of the admiration and high regards of which they are held by their peers.
“You have been chosen by your fellow students to represent their interest to the Local Government District Councils, and to ensure that their views are heard.
“You have been handed a mandate today to play a vital role within your community and in your own education.
“Not only are you being given the opportunity to participate in the decision making process, but you are being afforded a chance to gain essential professional development skills that employers look for in graduates; such as effective communication, time management, critical thinking, problem solving and the art of negotiation,” he pointed out.
Mr. Woodside also advised the new Junior Councillors that their Family Island Administrator, Don Cornish, along with the Chief Councillor for the City of Freeport Mr. Alvin Smith, the City of Freeport District Council, and their local coordinators will help them carry out their role as effectively as possible.
“They along with my department will ensure that you are given a practical experience of what the role of Junior Councillors entails. Together we will make certain that you are provided with training opportunities and support during your term in office,” he told the students.
Again expressing his gratitude and that of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet, Minister Woodside added that youth participation is essential to Local Government.
“It is our intent to provide you with the knowledge and skills to become future community leaders, in hopes that some of you will enter the pool of candidates for Local Government District Council election in your district,” he stated.
By SIMON LEWIS
Bahamas Information Services