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St George to have mayoral battle as Gosling is unopposed

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Nomination day at the Seventh-day Adventist Church Hall, King Street, Hamilton. Charles Gosling, the Mayor of Hamilton, left, and George Dowling III, the Mayor of St George. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The Town of St George faces a battle for mayor as former holder of the office Quinell Francis has challenged incumbent George Dowling III for the post.

As nominations for the upcoming corporate elections closed yesterday ahead of the May 11 poll, Charles Gosling was declared the winner of another term as mayor of Hamilton after no one stood against him.

Ahead of the East End showdown with his predecessor as mayor, Mr Dowling told The Royal Gazette that it would be “up to the voters” to decide whether he remained in the position after the election.

Mr Gosling criticised the Government for not doing enough to highlight that the elections were happening.

However, he said that a good turnout by voters for contested seats would show support for keeping the corporations for the City of Hamilton and the Town of St George, both of which the Government wants abolished.

Referring to what he claimed was a lack of publicity for the elections by the Government, Mr Gosling told The Royal Gazette: “I think they could have done a better job.

“A lot of people said they would have registered to vote, but we were not aware it was happening.

“That could explain the lower registration by business ratepayers.”

Asked about unopposed winners, Mr Gosling said: “But, if people win by acclamation you can say, well, that shows the confidence that people have in the constituency.”

Winners and nominees in Hamilton

The business ratepayers and mayoral elections were uncontested.

The winners in the section for business ratepayers councillors are: John Harvey, Lawrence Scott, John Nicholas Swan and Dennis Tucker.

Charles Gosling was returned as mayor.

This means elections for the business ratepayers councillors and the mayor for the municipality of Hamilton are not required.

There will be an election for the municipal residents councillors with the nominees being: Jenefer Brimmer, Shawn Brown, RoseAnn Edwards, Henry Ming and George A. Scott.

Hamilton will see five people competing for the four seats elected by residents.

In St George, three candidates will contest the two places chosen by business ratepayers.

Quinell Francis, the former mayor of St George, is standing for the post again (File photograph by Nicola Muirhead)

Hamilton business ratepayer registrations to vote are nearly 10 per cent down on when elections were last held in 2019, dropping to 383 from 423.

The number of municipal residents in the capital registered to take part in the vote is 576, virtually the same figure as four years ago, which stood at 591.

In the Town of St George, 47 businesses and 1,317 municipal residents are entitled to cast votes, compared with 55 business ratepayers and 1,333 residents recorded in 2019.

In the capital the distribution of seats is four for residential electors and four for business ratepayers.

In St George the allocation is six seats for residential voters and two for business ratepayers.

The Government has said it is determined to press ahead with plans to abolish corporation elections and appoint unelected members in future.

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

As a result of the legal action, Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, got Parliament to limit the term times of corporation members elected next month to two years.

Winners and nominees in St George

The municipal residents election was uncontested. The winners are: Tianny Butterfield, Elizabeth Christopher, N. Garon Dowling, Jari Ming, Lynwood Trott and Allen Van Putten.

This means that an election for the municipal residents councillors is not required.

An election will be held for the mayor and the business ratepayers councillors.

The nominees for mayor are: George Dowling III and Quinell Francis.

The nominees for business ratepayers councillors are: Mackeesha Curtis, Alfonso Harris and Amne Osseyran.

During the voter registration drive, Mr Gosling called for electors to make it a referendum on how the city should be run.

The mayor also said he was in favour of peace talks with the Government as he rejected claims by Colonel Burch that a “war of attrition” was going on over how the island is run.

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.

While the City has lost its case in the Bermuda courts, the appeal to London is a last-ditch effort to halt the change.

Colonel Burch told MPs last month: “This is obviously a war of attrition. The reality is that we are 21 square miles and we really have two governments.

“We have a municipality who runs the City and controls the main dock and imports into the country, and you have a government that has to ask them for things.”

The Government was asked to comment on Mr Gosling’s claims about lack of publicity by The Royal Gazette.

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Published April 26, 2023 at 7:52 am (Updated April 26, 2023 at 11:01 am)

St George to have mayoral battle as Gosling is unopposed

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