By Elesha George
More than five years after being appointed as a member of the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC), John Montgomery Jarvis has taken his oaths to become its new chairman.
On Wednesday morning he stood before his wife, four children and his colleagues to take the oaths of office, allegiance and secrecy at Government House.
With almost 30 years of studying the electoral process, it is now time for Jarvis to apply his wealth of knowledge to the position.
Governor General, His Excellency Sir Rodney Williams, who presented Jarvis with his instrument of appointment, described him as a “devoted public servant” who brings “a tremendous amount of experience” to the post.
“We hope that you will use that experience for good, that you will carry out your duties without fear or favour, without malice or ill will to anyone,” he said.
Jarvis told Observer, “I have been involved in this process for almost 30 years, long before we had an electoral commission.”
He recalled that he was “hijacked” by Ivor Ford to serve on ABEC and, while hesitant at the time, he is happy that he took up the challenge.
Following his immediate appointment, he is now ready to oversee his first general election which is constitutionally due in 2023. He will also address other business of the office like voter re-registration and staff training.
“Some staff members are faced with a very difficult environment-type situation that presently we occupy some of the school buildings and we’re told that we need to get out and that sort of thing,” he said.
“Finding a home for registration units will be very important and, most importantly, the whole question of training of staff.”
In reference to the training, Jarvis shared that electoral management programmes are being factored into the UWI curriculum, offering certificates, diplomas and degrees.
Jarvis has served as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, the Ministry of Information, Telecommunications and Technology, the Ministry of Health, Social Transformation and Consumer Affairs, and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Commerce.
He has also served as a returning officer for five general elections in Antigua and Barbuda and has also been the lead training officer of ABEC’s electoral workers over the years.
He has extensive experience as an international electoral observer having participated in Caricom missions to Haiti, Guyana, St Vincent, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Jarvis assumes the position of chairman following the retirement of Nathaniel “Paddy” James, who served the commission in various capacities for 20 years.