Following the Local Government Election that took place on Thursday, January 27th, 2022, the first three Eleuthera district councils were officially sworn-in during a formal ceremony one week later on Friday, February 4th, on the grounds of the former administration complex in Harbour Island – including councilors, deputy chief councilors and chief councilors for the Spanish Wells, North Eleuthera Mainland and Harbour Island local government district councils.
Central and South Eleuthera councils followed suit with swearing-in ceremonies held on Friday, February 11th, 2022 in Governor’s Harbour and in Rock Sound.
In a brief speech during the North Eleuthera ceremony, Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs, the Hon. Clay Sweeting, shared the vision his ministry had for local government and what they aimed to bring forward during the next few years, saying, “The ‘blueprint for change’ requires the Ministry of Family Island Affairs to further decentralize decision-making by putting power in the hands of the communities through local government. We hope to increase the budget for local council members to ensure that you are empowered. We hope to empower local government to have revenue raising powers and to share jurisdiction over local affairs and community advancement and development. We also want to support the development of sister city relationships of business, tourism, culture, educational and humanitarian exchanges.”
He continued, “Local government is established to make the processes of daily living easier in the Family Islands, allowing a council of elected peers to govern over the affairs that almost immediately reduce or completely eliminate the red tape that exist with having to wait on central government to make decisions. This is the simplified goal. In reality, we on the Family Islands have experienced some of the more significant challenges over the years, with many of the previous responsibilities being removed from local government and reverted back to central government where the wheels turn slowly. We have seen drastic reductions in our fiscal budgets, and some councils barely have enough funding to meet payroll or pay for garbage collection – and these are only some of the challenges. These challenges are what you who profoundly volunteered for these positions have inherited. We have read the Local Government Act and have observed the practices in your townships. You are spilling over with innovative ideas to bring solutions to these challenges… We are here to partner with you in this journey.
“My team has already embarked on several initiatives to revolutionize local government. Significantly, we have already engaged local consultants to review the current Local Government Act, to make the necessary adjustments to make it make sense for all of us… By the end of this calendar year, we hope to have made significant adjustments to truly empower the local government boards around the Family Islands… I will work with you to create solutions, and to exemplify throughout the world that local government can work. It can be effective. It will take teamwork, creativity and integrity. I celebrate with you today and charge each of you to build on the stones of your predecessors. Let us embrace this opportunity to create the change we want to see in our communities together.”
Special guest speaker during the morning event, Speaker of the House of Assembly the Hon. Patricia Deveaux, in her remarks, before the official swearing-in began, stated, “As Speaker of the House of Assembly, as part of my contribution to your initiatives, I will remind parliamentarians of the need to enhance and increase local government’s fiscal authority in order for decentralization to be more complete. For those of you who have been newly elected, remember this. A great honour has been bestowed on you. Do your best to prove yourself worthy of that honour. You know what you have to do to make this beautiful island of ours a resounding success, both locally and at a national level. The entire Bahamas is depending on you. When your island prospers, the country prospers. I implore you to bring new initiatives to meet the growing demands of North Eleuthera. Don’t let us down.”
MP for North Eleuthera, the Hon. Sylvanus Petty expressed his excitement for the future of North Eleuthera, and announced plans for the renovation/reconstruction of the administrative building in Harbour Island. He also congratulated the new councilors and exhorted them to work together. “The hard work now begins. My advice to you is to stay focused, put your best foot forward, and let us work to leave our communities in a better position than where we met them. Let’s not play politics people. It’s over. No PLP and FNM – we are all Bahamians here. You have my full support, and together we will do great and magnificent things.”
Chief councilors sworn in on Friday for the three district councils included: Roberts Roberts for Spanish Wells, Terrance Davis for Harbour Island, and David Armbrister for North Eleuthera. The three chief councilors were also installed as Justices of the Peace by House Speaker Deveaux.
Central and South Eleuthera councils were informally sworn-in on Monday, February 7th, in keeping with the two-week deadline to do so following the local government elections, however, formal installation ceremonies also took place on Friday, February 11th, 2022.
The following are official results of the January 27th local government election in ELEUTHERA:
Harbour Island District Council:
Lisa Viola Aranha
Kaaleth Jamaal Brown
Terrance Ashderon Davis
Justine V. Higgs
Matthew Dequann Morris
Spanish Wells District Council:
Ernest Alexander Albury
Herbert ‘Herbie’ Albury
Kole Martin Pinder
Richard Chuck Pinder
Dahlia May Sturrup
Esdale Kemuel Underwood
North Eleuthera District Council:
Emmerson Egbert Hudson
Rickey Ricardo Bell
Central Eleuthera District Council:
Gerrard Coakley Jr.
Windsor Bethel Jr.
Lazavia Lanesha Johnson
Robert Birbb Scavella
South Eleuthera District Council:
Kevano Bullard (appointee)
Barbara Taylor (appointee)
La Shonda Leary
Sherwin Johnson (appointee)
Arthur Ernest Sweeting
McGregor James Young