Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Retired Justice James Patterson on Wednesday said he believed that his pick of Roxanne Myers over Vishnu Persaud to be the next Deputy Chief Elections Officer was “fit and proper”.
Making his position known on the issue one day after the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP)-aligned GECOM Commissioners slammed his decision to cast his vote not to rehire Persaud for the same post he had held for about three years until his contract expired last year August, the GECOM Chairman said Myers has what he wants. “The short answer is that Ms. or Mrs. Myers has all the attributes I require in somebody to fill that post. She is, in effect, fit and proper,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.
The GECOM Chairman said the fact that Persaud had accumulated experience as Deputy Chief Elections Officer. “You can’t extract one attribute of the assessment and hold it up and say that I should go in that direction. I have taken everything into consideration and that is my considered opinion,” said Patterson.
Patterson said he had good reason to override the score sheet that put Persaud above Myers because it provides for personal views. The score sheets are not particularly anything to go by because it’s subjective and one Commissioner might put a high mark for his or her candidate while another might put a low mark for his or her candidate so that subjective argument holds no water to me. I have to use my own independent judgement,” the GECOM Chairman said.
On the PPP’s accusation that the decision to hire Myers instead of Patterson was racially motivated, Justice Patterson said he could not prevent anyone from exercising his or her right to freedom of expression. At the same time, he refused to react to the opposition nominated commissioner’s charge he labelled as unfounded. “I am not going to respond to any canard. That’s just not me. That doesn’t say I hold anything against them. They are my colleagues on the Commission,” he said.
The GECOM Chairman especially credited Attorneys-at-Law, Bibi Shadick and Sase Gunraj who are PPP-nominated Commissioners. “In fact, I have high esteem for the lawyers on the Commission. They have helped me a lot in things which they have expertise,” he said.
The PPP was Wednesday expected to formally lodge a complaint to the Ethnic Relations Commission about what that party believes is a racial imbalance at GECOM. Commissioner Benn has estimated that imbalance to be aboiut 90 percent which he contends could lead to racism or reflexive racism at that elections management authority.
GECOM Commissioner, Vincent Alexander, who has been quite vocal on the charge of racial imbalance, has rejected Benn’s claim and has called on him to propose a formula to address his concerns. Alexander has said that GECOM does not hire persons based on their race.