File picture September 2019. Public Utlities Minister Robert Le Hunte speak to members of the media after leaving the government retreat at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s.

Gail Alexander

Despite resigning from Government last week, ex-Public Utilities minister Robert Le Hunte remains a nominee for the People’s National Movement’s La Brea seat and is willing to serve once the constituency wants him.

“People in the constituency had been asking me to put my hat in the ring and I responded to that when my nomination was submitted last Monday,” Le Hunte said yesterday.

“As long as they continue to want me to serve, I continue to make myself available. Since I resigned I’ve gotten many calls from them up to today (yesterday) endorsing me and saying they want me to continue as their representative.”

A spokesman for PNM’s La Brea unit yesterday confirmed Le Hunte’s remains a nominee for the seat and hasn’t withdrawn his nomination.

Le Hunte resigned last week from the Dr Keith Rowley-led administration following a disagreement at last week’s Cabinet meeting over a billion-dollar WASA water plan which he was proposing for T&T. In the Senate two weeks ago, he’d said he had a $3 billion plan to deal with the question of water for T&T once and for all. He’d planned on submitting in the report of the Recovery Roadmap of which he was vice-chairman until resigning.

Today, Government’s expected to appoint San Juan candidate Jason Williams to replace Le Hunte in the Senate. Minister in Legal Affairs Fitzgerald Hinds is also now handling Public Utilities after Le Hunte’s departure. Le Hunte went to his former office yesterday to say goodbye to personal staff.

Le Hunte, who was born in La Brea, submitted his nomination for the seat last Monday when the PNM opened nominations for 16 constituencies and the deadline is May 29.

Prior to resigning, his name was tipped by PNMites for the PNM safe seat. Incumbent Olivierre said she’s also seeking nomination. Yesterday, the La Brea executive spokesman said Le Hunte, Olivierre and another person are the current nominees and the unit meets Thursday to examine them and expects to be called for screening thereafter.

Yesterday, Le Hunte said, “My life has always been about service. I entered politics to serve the people. I remain PNM and open to the people of La Brea.

“I was born in there, grew up in Fyzabad, went to school in Siparia and am familiar with all environs. I’ve always kept in touch with people there. I was also PNM’s Local Government co-ordinator for seats in that region including La Brea so I’m very familiar with the people and issues.”

He added, “I’ve spent 31 years as a PNM member, serving in all constituencies – I’ve served in the most amount of areas and wherever I’ve gone, I’ve been a member of the area’s executive.”

On whether his recent conflict with the rest of the PNM Cabinet could be a problem should he become a PNM MP – or could arise again – he said, “I’m not concerned. My resignation over a difference of policy position has nothing to do with my ability to serve or my commitment to party.

“I don’t have a fixation on offices, which are mere instruments to provide service to the people, that’s why it was easy to resign from Public Utilities. Any office I hold I see as a vehicle to provide service to people. So I’m making myself available to the people of La Brea if they’d like me to be their representative.”

However, he couldn’t say how many party groups are backing him.

Government officials said last Sunday there was no conversation between Le Hunte and Rowley on his resignation.

On if he would have issues face the PNM screening team led by Rowley and other frontline Cabinet members, Le Hunte said, “There should be no concern. He’s my political leader of a party which I’m part of and he’s Prime Minister. I don’t think because of any difference on policy position, there should be an issue. We agree on many other issues and I’m still part of the PNM family.

“I won’t have any trepidation or nervousness about facing him…. Dr Rowley always valued my contribution and I expect he’d understand the level of contribution I could make as La Brea MP,”

Le Hunte said some of his ministerial colleagues had also reached out to him “thanking him for interaction with them.”