The San Fernando East parliamentary constituency has produced one prime minister in T&T’s history and this year again it may possibly produce another historical milestone as the son of a former prime minister could become the next MP.
Randall Mitchell is the outgoing MP for San Fernando East. In 2015, Randall replaced the former Prime Minister, Patrick Manning who had held the seat for 44 years.
In this year’s election, the constituency will see Brian Manning, the son of the late Patrick Manning contesting the seat on a People’s National Movement (PNM) ticket, while Monifa Russell Andrews is representing the United National Congress (UNC).
Both candidates spoke to the Guardian about how they intend to improve the constituency if elected.
Manning who has worked in an investment analyst background decided to contest the seat because of the current problems the country faces.
He believes that the country is in a “fragile” situation economically and the decisions that are made now will determine the country’s future for generations to come.
Given the juncture that the country is in now, earlier this year he made the decision to contest the seat his father held for over 40 years.
He said the San Fernando East constituency faces similar circumstances as the rest of the country.
Two of the major problems his constituency faces are unemployment and infrastructural problems.
He attributes the downturn in the economy to a crash in energy prices and the COVID-19 related crisis and this has hurt businesses and people’s ability to find jobs.
He also said that local government reform is critical as that it was supposed to be funded in part by Property Taxes. This Property Tax implementation has been made difficult because of the opposition blocking it.
To solve the unemployment in the San Fernando East constituency and the country in general, Manning said that the right economic policies must be implemented to create jobs.
Manning who has been touring the constituency for the past six weeks said that the outpouring of support has been overwhelming and he is confident of a victory.
Reflecting on the legacy of his father, the younger Manning said his father helped the people of San Fernando and the country greatly and he understands that he has big shoes to fill.
Monifa Russell Andrews is the UNC’s candidate for the San Fernando East constituency.
A mother of three children, she is a small business owner and she has been active in the political arena and worked to help the party to win the 2010 elections.
She said it is very “sad” as the area has been neglected by past MPs and it is obvious for everyone to see.
Some of the problems that she identified include drainage, water, recreation, overgrown grass, mosquito infestation, lack of postal services and lack of maintenance of the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) units.
If elected, she will also work with the young people of the constituency to improve their lives.
She also promises to ensure that proper drains are built to accommodate the flow of water and that all water canals are cleaned regularly.
She will also ensure that garbage is properly disposed of.
Andrews will also lobby with other colleagues holding respective ministries to work together to get the job done.