CANDIDATES for three political parties are will today file their nomination forms for each of two local government seats up for grabs in July 16 by-elections, after the untimely deaths of their two former occupants.
The Belmont East seat on the Port of Spain City Corporation in 2016 was won by the late Darryl Rajpaul of the People National Movement (PNM) with 724 votes, ahead of the UNC’s Venude Rajcomar on 49 votes, with two spoilt votes. Some 773 valid votes were cast out of some 3,237 registered voters.
The Barataria seat on the San Juan Laventille Regional Corporation was won in 2016 by PNM candidate, the late Pernell Bruno winning 1,898 votes ahead of the United National Congress’ (UNC’s) Vijay Mahabir on 1,506 votes, with 12 spoilt votes. Some 3,404 valid votes were cast out of list of 10,202 registered electors.
Today, candidates for Belmont East are scheduled to file their nomination papers at 123 Henry Street, Port of Spain, from 9 am to 12 noon and 1 pm to 3 pm, and those for Barataria will file at 111 Aranguez Main Road, Aranguez.
The candidates so far announced for Belmont East are psychologist/guidance counsellor Nicole Young (PNM), boxing coach/nursery principal Lianna Babb-Gonzales (UNC) and communications officer Felicia Holder (Progressive Empowerment Party (PEP). Barataria candidates are Health and Safety professional Kimberly Small (PNM), housewife Sharon Maraj-Dharam (UNC) and photographer/maths teacher Christoph Samlal (PEP.)
Small told Newsday the reception by residents on her walkabouts has been “very warm, receiving and supportive” as a young person aiming to continue Bruno’s legacy. Amid woes of traffic, street lights, overgrown lots, vector control and unemployment, Small as a lifelong resident, vowed to be accessible.
PEP PRO Jacqui Learmond-Criqui told Newsday residents had given “an extremely positive response” to Holder and Samlal. “A lot of people are saying they are ready for change.” The UNC’s Kevan Gibbs told Newsday the two areas were neglected after the two councillors died. “We want to get Barataria and Belmont East working again.
Almost a year has passed with no councillor, so that is our focus.” Gibbs said Belmont suffers a lack of water, alleging St Ann’s West/Port of Spain North MP Stuart Young had not taken up the slack due to Rajpaul’s demise.
Saying the PNM had won Belmont East with 700 votes to the UNC’s 49 in 2016, he scoffed, “Who would ever have thought the PNM would be boasting of winning Belmont East? That should be a given.” Noting a lack of any PNM boast over Barataria, he quipped, “It sounds as if they have given up on Barataria already.”