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Rushton Paray

While the People’s National Movement (PNM) has won two out of three of the last General Elections in 2015 and 2007, the Mayaro constituency has gone to the United National Congress (UNC) consecutively; Winston “Gypsy” in 2007 and 2010 and the current MP Rushton Paray in 2015.

Falling oil prices and the COVID-19 lockdown have also impacted one of the major issues affecting citizens in the constituency; unemployment.

Two businessmen, incumbent UNC candidate Rushton Paray, the PNM’s Sankar “Bunny” Mahabirsingh, and Progressive Empowerment Party (PEP) candidate Sterling Lee Ha, all Mayaro sons of the soil, are contesting the seat.

Mahabirsingh lost a local government election in 2013 when he went up for the electoral district of Ecclesville in the Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporation.

He did not return Guardian Media’s WhatsApp messages and calls from Sunday to Tuesday.

Paray said “Serving the people of Mayaro as their Member of Parliament for the past five years has been a privilege and an absolute pleasure.

“Having built a solid platform for constituent services and development, I wish to seek their approval to return as their Parliamentary representative to continue on that strong platform that we have built together.

“Living in Mayaro allows me to feel what they feel, see what they see and understand what they say. That is the bedrock for solid representation. “This most of all makes me the best choice for the upcoming General Elections on August 10, 2020.”

He said during his tenure as MP, his team and he had formulated several plans to address the nagging issues of water shortages, flooding, agriculture, tourism, energy, new business creation, infrastructure and most importantly, how to put the people in Mayaro back to work.

Paray said the projects and programmes were heavily connected to the party’s National Transformation Plan.

He said the country’s transformation will be driven by these key projects with thousands of new ideas to be kindled in the process.

Lee Ha said “Initially, when the executive of the party was offering me seats, they offered me two other constituencies, I declined.

“I had two minds about going up as a candidate. Then they asked me if I would consider Mayaro. It’s a constituency that is always close to my heart and I really couldn’t say no.

“My grandmother was born and raised in Mafeking village, my mother grew up and went to school in Mayaro, all my aunts and uncles were born and raised there, I still have an uncle living in Hingwan Drive.

“It was a very easy choice, I spent most of my childhood in Mayaro, fished with my uncle on his boat pulling seine. I also worked for several years in Mayaro at Galeota Point, it has a special place in my heart.”

He said the main burning issue was that a lot of young people that have a good education, skills, but Mayaro had no jobs for them.

Lee Ha said compounding the issue was housing, another major challenge.

He said in many households, only one parent was working, children with education can’t get jobs, Mayaro relied heavily on the fishing industry but there was very little work on the beach, some get in the wrong type of activities like drugs and criminal activity.

Lee Ha said to survive some people sold their family lands to outsiders and lost their income and heritage.

He said what the PEP had been advocating for was the diversification of the economy and investing in the country’s farmers.

Lee Ha said food production was a major priority of the PEP, the party had always pushed for T&T to grow their own food whether in Mayaro or the rest of the country, it was the same situation where government support was concerned, getting the necessary lands, assistance, and accessing loans was a lengthy process.