Lifeline for Mayor Moore

SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland — Even after two independent councillors of the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation joined the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) side of the floor on Thursday, embattled Mayor of Savanna-la-Mar Bertel Moore managed to hold onto his position. And he appears to have found an unlikely ally for future battles.

Councillor Lawton McKenzie, who walked away from the People’s National Party (PNP) alongside Garfield James and Ian Myles in July to become independent representatives, did not cross the floor with them on Thursday. He has thrown his full support behind Moore and while he remains an independent for now, he has not written off a return to the PNP.

McKenzie’s role is vital as the JLP now has six seats and the PNP has five. After Thursday’s stormy meeting, he told the Jamaica Observer that his leanings are generally towards the PNP on whose ticket he came to power in 2016. He was firm in his assertion that he will never join the JLP.

“I have no intention of going anywhere,” McKenzie said when asked about a possible future with the ruling party.

In fact, he said he had beseeched his former Comrades not to cross the floor.

“I spoke to them and told them that I will not go any further, not even an inch further in the direction that they are going,” McKenzie told the Observer.

His vote on matters that come before the corporation in the future, he said, will be determined by what is best for residents of the parish.

McKenzie also made it clear that he will not be a party to any move to unseat Moore as mayor.

“They cannot remove the mayor under the way they are doing it and I will be ensuring that [it does not happen],” he told the Observer.

A no-confidence vote had been expected on Thursday but the meeting ended prematurely after a dust-up between Moore and James.

James was on the floor and Moore told him to sit. James refused, arguing that Moore should apologise for earlier calling him crazy. With both men on their feet, Mayor Moore ended the meeting before the completion of a resolution of no-confidence against him which was being read ahead of being tabled.

“[Moore] has deployed some cheap politics in his approach to prevent the council’s business from taking place,” James told the Observer after the meeting ended.

He vowed that steps will be taken, in the coming days, to address what happened on Thursday.

Whatever those plans, McKenzie is adamant that the corporation’s focus needs to be on serving the people who elected them all.

“Everybody needs to go back in their divisions and work to try and get back another term,” he told the Observer.

According to Councillor Myles, he and James will continue to serve their respective decisions with distinction as they did when they were members of the PNP. He said the JLP had welcomed them both with open arms.

While he admitted that he had lost some support after walking away from the PNP, he claimed to have gained some as well. He told the Observer that he has the backing of most of the people in his Little London Division.

“Persons have already been stating their position that wherever I go and whatever I do, that’s where they will be. It just shows the kind of leadership, a seriousness of purpose that has transparency and has no animosity but one that is genuine in nature for individuals. That is what I am about. Service above self,” stated Myles.

This all began with Myles, James and McKenzie’s strident opposition to the PNP’s decision to allow Vice-President Ian Hayles to position himself as the constituency caretaker.

In late July, Myles was voted in as deputy mayor of Savanna-la-Mar after the then independent councillors and the JLP joined forces to push that through. However, the PNP filed a court injunction and the issue remains unresolved.