Gosling holds fire over deferred elections
Hamilton mayor Charles Gosling has held his fire on the option of a protest resignation over impending legislation that would defer city elections and confer extra powers on the Bermuda Government.
According to electoral rules, this May would mark the end of three-year terms for Mr Gosling and Quinell Francis, the Mayor of St George, who were chosen by voters on May 7, 2015.
However, the Municipalities Amendment Act, tabled last Friday, would extend that term by 12 months to allow “an extensive consultation period on the municipal reform process” on a new deal in which Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, would receive added say in the affairs of both corporations.
“It would have been nice to have the decency of being asked,” Mr Gosling told The Royal Gazette yesterday.
The mayor said he had spoken with the minister, and was prepared to await the results of this Friday’s parliamentary debate, when MPs decide whether to approve the amendments.
Asked if the surprise one-year extension would prove cumbersome for Hamilton’s team, Mr Gosling said it “depends on the amount of commitments you have”. “There might be one or two people where this will have no impact. There are others who put in considerable time making sure they do a good job.”
The mayor called it “infuriating” to get blindsided with “nothing about wanting to extend your term by a year and appreciating what this means in terms of your professional life and family”.
The pace of the legislation raised questions for Opposition MPs, with shadow economic development minister Grant Gibbons questioning “the Government’s intent to bulldoze these amendments through in one week”.
Friday marks the last session of the House until Parliament returns in May.
We queried the ministry last night on the timing of the municipalities debate, but received no comment by press time.
The present mayoral term marks the first under a voting system in which rate-paying businesses were granted representation along with municipality residents, but Mr Gosling called it “disheartening” that few eligible businesses within the city had registered.
“Just over 300” out of a pool of roughly 1,200 qualifying businesses had signed up, he said.
“While it might be a slightly onerous process to register, you’re probably talking about an hour’s worth of paperwork and maybe 20 minutes to exercise your right to determine the future of the city,” he said.
“If you’re not going to bother to register, you don’t have the right to complain.”
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