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Pennelope Beckles-Robinson

GAIL ALEXANDER

It’s official – former People’s National Movement Arima MP Penny Beckles-Robinson has been chosen as the prospective candidate for Arima in this year’s general elections.

She edged out incumbent MP and Education Minister Anthony Garcia, who was the favourite early on having won the seat in the 2015 general elections, for the position.

And Toco-Sangre Grande alderman Roger Munroe has also been chosen as the prospective Toco-Sand Grande candidate.

That was the conclusion of Sunday’s PNM screening team’s deliberations on the two seats.

The selections were confirmed by party officials as well as representatives of both Arima and Toco-Sangre Grande’s executives following the end of screening for the two seats at 10 pm Sunday.

Nominees for Toco-Sangre Grande, Arima and Lopinot-Bon Air West were screened at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s from 5 pm Sunday.

Lopinot-Bon Air West’s nominees were still being screened after 10 pm.

Beckles-Robinson, who was T&T’s Ambassador at the United Nations, returned home after receiving an exemption from Government to enter through T&T’s closed borders. The T&T Guardian confirmed that Beckles-Robinson has been in T&T since Wednesday and has been in the mandatory 14-day COVID-19 quarantine.

On Sunday, Beckles-Robinson was screened by the screening team via the Zoom platform from her quarantine location.

She was one of three Arima candidates, including incumbent Garcia – who was recommended by Arima’s executive – and Dr Hillary Bernard. When nominations first came in, Garcia had 11 executive votes, Bernard 7 and Beckles-Robinson 5. Garcia also had support from 8 party groups, Beckles-Robinson from 6 and Bernard 2.

At Sunday’s screening, Arima went in at 7 pm and Garcia, Bernard and Beckles-Robinson were screened.

However, Arima’s executive was asked to vote for a candidate via secret ballot. PNM officials added that Beckles-Robinson got nine votes, Garcia six and Bernard four.

The T&T Guardian was told that screening team leader Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley eventually announced Beckles-Robinson as the chosen candidate. She didn’t answer subsequent calls on her success.

Beckles-Robinson was Arima MP under the now-deceased Patrick Manning regime. She unsuccessfully campaigned for the party’s leadership against Rowley in 2014. He appointed her UN Ambassador when he won general elections in 2015.

Toco-Sangre Grande’s executive was also asked to vote via secret ballot to choose a candidate, PNM officials added.

After an announcement on Munroe, Toco-Sangre Grande party groups were feeling a sense of relief that he was chosen, since he’s been seen as the person who can pull together areas – including Northwest – where the PNM slipped in the 2019 Local Government polls

Toco-Sangre Grande officials said councillor Terry Rondon, who was among several nominees, received four votes out of 14 from the executive members. He was asked by screening team member Colm Imbert about his health. Rondon was under doctor’s supervision but had said his doctors had given him approval to seek nomination.

It was Toco’s third shot at screening and Arima’s first.

La Brea has to return on Thursday for screening of its third set of nominees.