2456504
UNC leader Kamla Persad Bissessar addresses supporters at a political meeting in 2019.

Gail Alexander

Election action 2021 starts this morning.

Today is Nomination Day for candidates in the upcoming Tobago House of Assembly (THA) polls and by-elections occurring in five municipal corporation seats in Trinidad.

Both elections are on January 25.

This will be the 11th THA election after the Assembly’s term ended last year.

The five by-elections are to replace councillors who moved on to become Members of Parliament in the August 10 general elections.

The by-elections are in the following districts: Point Fortin (Hollywood), Princes Town (St Mary’s/Hindustan), Chaguanas (Cunupia), Arima (Arima Central) and Diego Martin (Morne Coco/Alyce Glen).

However, the Peoples’ National Movement (PNM) which had announced in early December, Shazam Lalloosingh as its St Mary’s /Hindustan candidate, changed that to Martina Loubon-Le Gendre last week, the party confirmed yesterday.

Candidates who will contest will today file nomination papers with Election and Boundaries Commission (EBC) officers for the various areas from 9 am.

The PNM is contesting both THA polls and the five by-elections.

The United National Congress (UNC) is not contesting the THA polls and will contest the five by-elections only.

Among the PNM’s THA opponents is the unity platform of the Tobago Forwards (TF) and Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP).

The PDP and TF formed a coalition last November. Both the PNM and PDP/TF platform have full slates of 12 candidates.

Also expected to contest the THA polls is independent candidate Anthony Hector plus the UTP’s Richardo Phillip and CARM’s Nickocy Phillips.

Tobago’s electorate has risen from 48,677 in 2016 to 50,789.

Boundaries remain unchanged.

The PNM won the last THA polls, but the PDP took two of the 12 THA seats. This election will be the first THA poll involving a female leader – Tobago PNM leader Tracy Davidson-Celestine.

Both the ruling PNM and the Opposition UNC will launch respective campaigns to present candidates tonight with virtual events.

PNM political leader, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley will address the PNM’s 8 pm meeting alongside members of the PNM’s Tobago Council.

UNC Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar will speak at the party’s 7.30 pm meeting themed “Together We Can”.

The PNM holds three of the by-election seats – Hollywood, Arima Central and Morne Coco/Alyce Glen.

The UNC holds St Mary’s /Hindustan and Cunupia.

The PNM’s by-election candidates are Leslie Chang Fong (Hollywood), Martina Loubon-Le Gendre (St Mary’s/Hindustan), Rasheed ‘Patos’ Ali (Cunupia), Dr. Hilary Bernard (Arima Central) and Jinelle Schulere-Smart (Morne Coco/Alyce Glen).

PNM PRO Laurel Lezama- Lee Sing said the party’s screening team decided last week to replace Lalloosingh with Loubon-Le Gendre . She could not give a reason, beyond saying the PNM would offer the best candidates possible. She couldn’t comment on recent social media speculation about the change.

However, Lezame-Lee Sing later told Guardian Media that until nomination papers are formally filed and accepted on Nomination Day, “the PNM considers nominees are prospective candidates”.

“The screening committee reserves its right to make necessary adjustments up until nomination papers are filed and accepted by EBC’s returning officers,” Lezama Lee-Sing said.

Lezama-Lee Sing said Loubon-Le Gendre had unsuccessfully contested the New Grant/Tableland seat in the last Local Government election and was also among the five nominees for the Moruga constituency for the August 10 general election. But Winston Peters was chosen for that seat and he lost to UNC’s Michelle Benjamin.

The UNC’s by-election candidates are Tylon Farrell (St Mary’s/ Hindustan) Richard Sukdeo (Cunupia) Daniel John (Hollywood), Sheldon Garcia (Arima Central) and John Laquis (Morne Coco /Alyce Glen).

At least one Independent will contest the by-election – Ariel AJ Saunders in St Mary’s/Hindustan.

UNC targets PNM by-election seats

While the UNC isn’t contesting THA polls, UNC chairman Dave Tancoo said yesterday, “We haven’t taken a party position to endorse any contender in Tobago but of course we do have a firm position of being opposed to the PNM in any election. We stand against PNM’s corruption and mismanagement and we look forward to change. This is a new year.”

He added, “Where by-elections are concerned, we intend to hold the seats in the Moruga and Chaguanas areas which we previously held and we’re aiming at the other seats held by the PNM, specifically because the PNM won those seats by 500 and 600 votes in the last election and at that time 5,000 to 6,0000 people didn’t come out to vote. There’s also a good chance given PNM’s mismanagement of the economy and the fact that its promises are more fictional than fact as people are seeing – and this will continue in 2021.”

Tancoo continued, “Over 10 provisions of the 2021 Budget began January 1 and some like the Motor Vehicle Tax and ban on imported material will penalise people in business. This will likely increase unemployment, and decrease trading at a time when we should be encouraging business as people will have to cope with property tax and utility hikes this year.”

“Also, some shipping quarters are asking for payment in US dollars. That is legal but the TT dollar is legal tender here so what they’re doing is unethical. But this demand is based on the fact of Government’s mishandling of the economy and the forex regime.”

The EBC has extended the validity of expired identification cards to June 30. Renewal processes begin today and people must call EBC offices to make appointments for this. The EBC said it will have extended hours, including on Saturdays, to facilitate walk-ins.

TOBAGO HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY CANDIDATES

PNM

1. Parlatuvier/L’Anse Fourmi/Speyside – Rory Dillon

2. Roxborough/Delaford – Neil Beckles

3. Black Rock/Whim/Spring Garden – Kelvon Morris

4. Lambeau/Signal Hill -Tracy Davidson-Celestine

5. Bacolet/Mt St George – Joel Jack

6. Scarborough/Calder Hall – Marslyn Melville-Jack

7. Providence/Mason Hall/Moriah – Kwesi Des Vignes

8. Belle Garden/Goodwood – Boxil Bailey

9. Plymouth/Golden Lane – Melissa James Guy

10. Canaan/Bon Accord – Clarence Jacob

11. Bethel/Mt Irvine – Shomari Hector

12. Buccoo/Mt Pleasant – Ancil Dennis

PDP/TOBAGO FORWARDS

• ↓Parlatuvier/L’anse Fourmi/Speyside – Farley Augustine (Deputy Political Leader)

• ↓Goodwood/Belle Garden West – Dr Faith B Yisrael

• ↓Buccoo/Mt Pleasant – Jamie Baird

• ↓Bethel/Mt Irvine – Pastor Terance Baynes (Tobago Forwards Leader)

• ↓Lambeau/ Signal Hill – Wayne “Wasp” Clarke

• ↓Belle Garden East/ Roxborough/ Delaford – Watson Duke (PDP Political Leader)

• ↓Plymouth/ Golden Lane – Zorisha Hackette

• ↓Scarborough/ Calder Hall – Trevor James

• ↓Bacolet/ Mt St George – Megan Morrison

• ↓Providence/ Mason Hall/Moriah – Ian “Whitey” Pollard

• ↓Canaan/Bon Accord – Joel “Nuttsy” Sampson

• ↓Black Rock/Whim/Spring Garden –Abby Taylor

INDEPENDENT

• ↓Black Rock/Whim/Spring Garden- Anthony Hector

UTP

• ↓Buccoo/Mt Pleasant – Ricardo Phillip

CARM

• ↓Buccoo- Mt Pleasant- Nickocy Phillips