With months to go before the end of the Tobago House of Assembly’s (THA) four-year term, political parties have been oiling their electioneering machinery for the battle to win the next THA elections.
The People’s National Movement (PNM) has 10 of the 12 THA seats. The Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) has two.
The incumbent -PNM party groups have nominated 24 out of a total slate of 41 candidates to meet the party’s screening committee. The committee has the final say on who will contest the election on the party’s behalf.
The PDP said they are finalising their candidates and will reveal their names “soon.”
Little is being heard from One Tobago Voice- the amalgamation of three parties- Tobago Forwards (TF), Tobago Organization of the People (TOP), and The Platform of Truth (TPT).
In the PNM camp, seven of the existing 10, Assemblymen have returned to vie to retain their positions as area representatives.
They are Ancil Dennis- Buccoo/Mt Pleasant; Joel Jack- Bacolet/Mt St George; Clarence Jacob – Canaan/Bon Accord; Marslyn Melville-Jack- Scarborough/Calder Hall; Marisha Osmond- Plymouth/Golden Lane, Sheldon Cunningham – Providence/Mason Hall/Moriahand Shomari Hector – Bethel-Mt.Irvine.
Kelvin Charles ( former Tobago Council leader and Chief Secretary)- Black Rock/Whim/ Spring Garden, Jomo Pitt- Lambeau/Signal Hill, and Hayden Spencer- Belle Garden/Goodwood will not return.
The PNM’s Tobago Council leader Tracy Davidson-Celestine will appear before the screening committee unopposed for the Lambeau/Signal Hill electoral district. So will Ancil Dennis and Joel Jack.
Newcomers Kelvin Morris and Learie Paul will vie for the Black Rock/Whim/ Spring Garden district. And in the Belle – Garden / Goodwood district, four candidates, down from eight, were selected by party groups to face the committee. Those nominated are Boxil Bailey, Sheridan Kirk, Carl McEwen, and Ronnie Bacchus.
In the Roxborough/Delaford district, THA’s councilor Nadine Stewart-Phillips will face off with Neil Beckles and Maxlon Roberts before the committee. The PDP’s leader Watson Duke wrest this seat way from the PNM in 2017.
The committee will have to decide who of the three nominated candidates will represent the party in the Parlatuvier/ Lanse Fourmi/ Speyside district. The contenders are Rory Dillon and Soren Nicholas Bishop. The PDP currently holds the seat.
In the PDP camp, its deputy leader Farley Augustine said the part would reveal its candidates soon after their party’s prayer service on November 8.
In October 2019, the party officially launched both its THA and national elections campaigns.
Duke announced that the party chose Augustine as the person to lead the THA campaign and run for the Chief Secretary’s position.
Commenting on the party’s election campaign, Augustine told Guardian Media, “Today ( October 21) the party begins public discussions on the policies… to govern (Tobago).
“We are ready for whenever they decide to have the House dissolved.. and call the THA elections,” Augustine said.