Junior Mayors address the issues

Written by Fiona Dixon


12 students from across the island representing their parishes as Junior Mayors addressed the main issues affecting citizens in their community at a discussion forum held on Tuesday, November 27, at the Gleaner Company.

The students, who are actively, involved in co-curricular activities in schools and their communities addressed issues such as poor water supply, bad roads, streetlights, crime and violence, parenting and juvenille delinquency.

Poor roads and streetlights
The Junior Mayors called on the National Works Agency (NWA) to ensure that the roads were properly repaired and maintained, and programmes designed to produce these results developed.

Tennyson Watson, a student of Ascot High, representing Portmore Municipal, said “the issue of bad roads needed urgent attention”. According to Watson, “pre-patching the roads is not good enough, whatever the weather condition, wet or dry the roads should be built to withstand”.

He suggested that workers of the NWA should be trained like the overseas contractors to help with proper road repairs.

The St. Thomas representative, Tanya Morgan, of Seaforth High agreed with her colleague. She claimed roads in the parish that were badly damaged by Hurricane Dean and the November heavy rains needed urgent attention as some communities were to all intents and purposes cut-off.

On the subject of streetlights, Naudia Williams said the lack of lighting posed a threat to the person and property.

Drainage and solid waste
Trelawny and Portland were two of the parishes for which the issue of drainage and solid waste urgently needed to be addressed.

Monique Robb, a student of Westwood High, called for regular cleaning and maintenance of the drains. In addition she suggested the relevant authorities should consider the provision of dams as this would help to alleviate the problem of poor water supply in the parish.

Garbage disposal was a ‘burning’ issue for Shaneka Edwards, of Titchfield High. She wanted to see the Solid Waste organisation in the parish provide adequate containers for garbage disposal. According to Shaneka, “The garbage trucks can go into other areas of the community to minimise garbage overload”.

Greater councillor involvement
Turning their focus to community involvement, the Junior Mayors all agreed that community members are not adequately included in the decision making process.

The outspoken Tennyson of Ascot High, highlighted the importance of councillor’s involvement in their division, and suggests that they visit the communities and take time out to sit down with the residents and discuss their concerns.

Raquel Muir, of Manning High, added that the councillors should be ‘people persons’, that were involved at the grassroots level. “They should be involved in youth clubs, civic services, organizations that work with young people, so that the effect of their presence could be felt throughout the division,” she said.

Other issues
The desire for entertainers to use their talents to empower the youth was another issue discussed by the Junior Mayors. They felt that entertainers should use their music to encourage the youth to become leaders, and active participants in their communities.

“Entertainers need to educate the youths at the community level, give them a foundation of value, and start producing positive music with messages to empower young people,” said Naudia.

Kimberly had similar sentiments and added that “DJ’s should change their music, eliminate and not perpetuate violence,”.

The media
Mario Palmer, Brown’s Town High, called on the media to broadcast Local Government candidates within the divisions, to help build public awareness, about the role and functions of parish councillors.

The Junior Mayor participants were:

  • Tennyson Watson, Ascot High School - Portmore Municipal Council
  • Kimberly Mcleod, Clarendon College - Clarendon Parish Council
  • Shaniek Allison, Mile Gully High School - Manchester Parish Council
  • Eric T. McDonald, Munroe College - St. Elizabeth Parish Council
  • Racquel Muir, Mannings High School - Westmoreland Parish Council
  • Sadrina Johnson, Lucea Primary School - Hanover Parish Council
  • Michael Nattoo, Cambridge High - St. James Parish council
  • Monique Robb, Westwood High School - Trelawny Parish Council
  • Mario Palmer, Brown’s Town High - St. Ann Parish Council
  • Shaneka Edwards, Titchfield High School - Portland Parish Council
  • Naudia Williams, Mary Mount High - St. Mary Parish Council
  • Tanya Morgan, Seaforth High School - St. Thomas parish Council.

USEFUL FACT: How do you become a Junior Mayor?
Junior Mayors are selected annually during youth month in November. The selection process involves schools choosing a representative. Each participant has to make a ten-minute presentation on issues and concerns within their divisions which are judged by members of the community. The successful candidate becomes the Junior Mayor for the year.

Recently, the Honourable Robert Montague, State Minister with special responsibility for Local Government Reform endorsed a new initiative where each representative would establish a community project. Under this project each student is allotted $20,000 to assist with any community development initative they choose.

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