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Head-to-head clash for Mayor of St George reaches climax today

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Quinell Francis, is fighting to be Mayor of St George again (File photograph)

As voters go to the polls today in what could be the last corporation elections, the battle for Mayor of St George rages on.

A former holder of the office, Quinell Francis, is seeking to topple the incumbent, George Dowling III.

Ms Francis, 52, who works as a land surveyor, said she had relaunched her political career because voters kept telling her they wanted change.

Mr Dowling said he was only marginally surprised that Ms Francis had challenged him because he thought she had started doing things intended to say “hey, look at me”.

Ms Francis told The Royal Gazette: “I decided to come back because of the persistence of the community.

“People came and asked me to put my hat back in the ring. They are not happy with some of the things that have been going on, and the lack of communication.

“One of the things people are concerned about is there has been a lot of talk about taxing of the residential community.

Charles Gosling, the Mayor of Hamilton, left, and George Dowling III, the Mayor of St George (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

“There are other ways of looking at revenue, such as looking to the corporate sector to get some things done in St George.

“Issues with water have also been a problem. I had to really think about it, but I decided I had to listen to the community.

“I have made sure that there are councillors who will work with me. We have five residential ones and two business ones.”

With the Government limiting new corporation terms to two years as it insists on pushing ahead with controversial plans to abolish elections to the bodies, Ms Francis said her aim was to get the best arrangements for St George in the future.

Corporation election details

Polling takes place in Hamilton from 8am to 8pm at the Seventh Day Adventist Church Hall on King Street.

The ballots will be counted at the venue as soon as the poll closes.

Charles Gosling has already been re-elected unopposed as Mayor of Hamilton and will be sworn back into office at a City Hall ceremony on Friday morning.

In St George, where there is a contest for the position of mayor, voting takes place between 8am and 8pm at Penno’s Wharf Cruise Ship Terminal, where the winner will be announced.

Mr Dowling, 45, who works as an assistant operations manager at Dowling's Marine and Auto Service, said he had presided over the “renaissance” of St George.

Referring to being challenged for the post, Mr Dowling told The Royal Gazette: “I was marginally surprised because Mayor Francis was my immediate predecessor and she passed the baton to me and publicly endorsed me.

“But I realised there would be a challenge coming because I saw the movements of someone preparing for an election because she started doing different things as if to say, ‘hey, look at me’.

“I want to continue to be captain of the ship. I am running again because I want to finish the work that we have done.

“We have kick-started and ignited the St George renaissance, we have done a lot of positive things despite the pandemic. I want more good fortune for the town.”

Charles Gosling, the Mayor of Hamilton, who has been battling the Government over planned abolition of corporation elections, was re-elected to the post unopposed.

The City of Hamilton has taken its fight for survival to the Privy Council in London, but the Government does not expect a ruling until 2025 at the earliest.

Legislation passed by the House of Assembly would end municipal elections, with the Government, instead, appointing mayors and half of the councillors.

The remaining councillors would be picked by the relevant minister on the recommendation of a selection committee.

The City of Hamilton argued that the change was unconstitutional because it would give the Government “overwhelming” control of the municipalities and their properties, which would amount to an illegitimate deprivation of property.

Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, has defended the abolition push by insisting that the island cannot go on effectively having “two governments”.

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Published May 11, 2023 at 12:26 pm (Updated May 11, 2023 at 12:26 pm)

Head-to-head clash for Mayor of St George reaches climax today

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