With just a few days before the local government election debates, the Jamaica Debates Commission (JDC) says preparations are well underway for a well-executed face-off between candidates from the two main political parties.
Trevor Fearon, secretary at the JDC, during an interview with Our Today, expressed confidence that the debates will go according to plan.
“We have been doing it quite a few years, this is our 22nd year of organizing debates, new challenges constantly emerge but we are confident that we will get things done,” said Fearon, who further noted that successful execution of the local government election debate is also dependent on the debaters.
The JDC last week announced that it will spend J$24 million to host two political debates on Thursday, February 15, and Friday, February 17, ahead of the local government election.
The first debate will touch on local government policy and how it affects citizens, while the other will focus on local government and its effectiveness.
Fearon says local government debates allow the electorate to become more informed about the functions and purposes of local government versus the functions of central government in making decisions that are best suited for them.
“Local government elections tend to be regarded as a poor cousin of general and there is a sense in which many of our electorates are perhaps not clear about the specific roles and functions as against central government, so part of what we hope to build through the questions and the answers is to get more of the electorate intuned with the specific functions of local versus central government and with that type of information it can put in them in a better place to make electorate decisions that they consider best suited to them,” he added.
Senator Charles Sinclair, councillor for North-East Montego Bay, Mayor of Port Maria Richard Creary and Venesha Phillips, councillor for the Papine Division who recently transitioned to the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), will be the first-round debaters for the JLP.
Deputy Mayor of Montego Bay Richard Vernon, Mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams and, one of two women, Councillor Tanyalee Williams of the May Pen North Division, or Whithney Smith-Currie of the Brompton Division in South West St Elizabeth, will be chosen to participate in the second debate.
Efforts by Our Today to get a list of the proposed candidates representing the People’s National Party in the local government election debates proved unsuccessful up to the time of publication.