By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
SOME 70 council seats are up for grabs in this year’s local government election in Grand Bahama slated for January 27.
Nomination of candidates will take place tomorrow at various nomination centres throughout the island, including East Grand Bahama, Sweeting’s Cay, Freeport, and West Grand Bahama.
Eligible candidates must complete a nomination form, submit a $50 deposit and present their declaration notarised by a Justice of the Peace.
In the City of Freeport District, there are nine seats – three for Marco City and two each for Central Grand Bahama, Pineridge, and East Grand Bahama.
In the Sweeting’s Cay District, there are five seats. There are seven seats in High Rock Township; five in Freetown Township; and nine each in West End Township, Eight Mile Rock West Township, Eight Mile Rock East Township, and Pinder’s Point Township.
The nomination starts at 9am and ends at noon. Candidates in Central and East Grand Bahama may nominate at St Georges’ High School Gymnasium. Those in Marco City and Pine Ridge may nominate at Jack Hayward Senior High School.
In the East Grand Bahama District, candidates may nominate at St Nicholas Anglican Church Hall.
In the West Grand Bahama District, candidates may nominate at the Administrator’s Office in Jones Town, Eight Mile Rock. And in the Sweeting’s Cay District at St Michael’s and All Angels Church Hall.
Candidates have started campaigning in their respective areas, and billboards are beginning to be placed along the streetside.
Some candidates have also started door-to-door visits and meet and greet events in their area.
Local government elections are held outside of New Providence, which comes under the central government. There are some 32 local government districts throughout the country. Local elections are held every three years but the 2020 election was suspended due to Emergency Powers Orders put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The districts do not have revenue-raising powers; they receive transfers from the central government.
District councils are responsible for hospitals and clinics; the supply of public potable water by standpipes; the upkeep of state schools and other government buildings; and the town committees responsible for general health and sanitation.
In Grand Bahama, the City of Freeport Council recently completed a major project that provides beach access to residents in the Carval Beach and Bahama Terrace areas which are in the Central Grand Bahama area.
“It is one of the single largest projects done by any council in the community,” said councillor Frazette Gibson.
She believes that it will also increase the value of land in this area because the road provides beach access.
Mrs Gibson, who is seeking re-election, stated that there are plans to further improve the access road.
“This project has been a long time in making and came about after talking with residents in Bahama Terrace area who wanted beach access because there was no beach in the immediate vicinity. I realised that there was a piece of land still owned by the Grand Bahama Port Authority that gives beach access to the only public beach in Freeport, which connects to the Williams Town community,” she said.
Kendal Culmer, chief councillor for the City of Freeport, said the Council is pleased that residents now have access to the beach in the Central Grand Bahama constituency.
“The City of Freeport is proud of this initiative, he said. “It is a lovely beach and residents can come out, be healthy and safe.”
Central GB councillor Marco Carey said that the new beach is within walking distance. “This is perfect for families to enjoy,” he said, explaining that no longer will residents have to crowd Xanadu Beach.
The Council is urging beachgoers to keep the area clean.