Following resident and Town Council criticism, Purcellville Mayor Kwasi Fraser’s drive to form a partnership with the second largest city in Guyana will take a back seat to other town affairs for the time being.
Fraser on Tuesday night removed from the Town Council agenda a vote on a Sister City partnership between Purcellville and Linden, Guyana—an initiative he proposed last month after a November visit to the Guyanese embassy. Fraser said he removed the action item because he didn’t want to take up more of the public’s time than necessary, considering the council was faced with a lengthy agenda. He said the item could come back up at a later meeting after further consideration.
Fraser proposed the Sister City idea Jan. 14, citing a suggestion that he should give back to his native country. He emphasized that the partnership would be between two individuals, not two towns—creating a working relationship between he and Linden Mayor Waneka Arrindell.
According to a January staff report, the partnership would allow the localities to collaborate on academic exchange programs, business and economic development, commerce, town planning, governance and faith-based ministries.
“This was meant to be an effort of global collaboration for economic and special gain for both countries,” Fraser said.
On Jan. 28, the council agreed to table a vote on the initiative until Feb. 11 at Councilman Nedim Ogelman’s suggestion. Fraser at that meeting said he thought the majority of the Town Council would have voted against the initiative.
The Sister City proposal sparked skepticism from residents and a few councilmen, some of whom were concerned that the partnership could burden taxpayers directly or indirectly, via town staff’s time discussing the topic and preparing agenda items.
Fraser said the initiative has been mischaracterized, noting that it was never intended to use taxpayer money or take up staff time—only the mayor’s time.
He said the Sister City proposal even solicited bigoted comments from residents, with one resident demeaning Guyana in the “Purcellville Matters Uncensored” Facebook group.
“Does anyone care that Fraser is PROCLAIMING a 3rd world sh$thole as your sister city,” the resident posted.
“This resulted in [some residents] descending to the lowest moral precincts of humanity,” Fraser said.
Fraser said a councilman also suggested that he consider countries other than Guyana as Purcellville’s sister city. Fraser said he interpreted that suggestion as one to look at a European country, where the population is predominantly white.
He said he was confused why some residents and councilmen continue to question the Sister City proposal, since, he said, Guyana’s gross domestic product is expected to increase by 86 percent in 2020.
“What community would not want to partner with such a country,” he asked. “That’s what I’m so baffled by.”
Even if the Town Council votes to approve the partnership in the coming months, it would dissolve once Fraser leaves the office of mayor. His term expires June 30. He said he would make a decision on whether to run for a third term by Wednesday, Feb. 19. The election will be held May 5.
“I need my entire family to be fully onboard,” he said of that decision.