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THA Assemblyman Shormari Hector.

On January 25, a total of 4,603 eligible voters will decide if the incumbent Shomari Hector- People’s National Movement or Terance Baynes- Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) will be the representative for the Bethel/Mt. Irvine electoral district in the Tobago House of Assembly(THA) elections.

From a historical perspective, the electoral district is the first and only area to elect an independent candidate since representation politics began in Tobago in 1980.

The electorate voted for Deborah Moore-Miggins in 1996.

Moore-Miggins, a daughter of the village, could not accomplish the feat a second time.

The last Central Statistics Office data showed Bethel, a rural district, is the more heavily populated area, while Mt. Irvine is an urban area comprising of hotels, guest houses, and restaurants.

More recently, in the last two THA elections- 2013 and 2017, the area’s electorate assisted in giving the PNM an overall victory in the THA elections. The PNM won all 12 seats in 2013 and 10 in 2017.

Hector, the party’s incumbent and candidate for the 2021 elections, represented the district for the past four years. He began a career in teaching at a primary school level in Tobago, then went on to teach at the secondary level in Trinidad. He was also a Mentorship and Guidance Specialist.

Baynes has been in the pastoral field for over three decades-33 years to be exact. He was also a coordinator at Metal Industries Company- Tobago. He served in the Senate for 14 months- 2011- 2013 and was an advisor to the Minister of Justice -2013-2014, under a People’s Partnership government.

Baynes, leader of the Tobago Forwards (TF), is running on a PDP ticket. He is expected to get TF’s support as the party’s executive requested their supporters give PDP their votes. The PDP needs more than a ten percentage point margin win to unseat the PNM candidate.

According to the Election and Boundaries Commission( EBC), in 2017, the PNM won 55 per cent of the votes while 44 per cent went to the PDP and TF combined.

EBC’s latest statistics show a slight increase in the voting population as compared with 2017. Back then, it was 4,370.

It moved to 4,603 during the EBC’s voter registration exercise in December 2020.