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Monday 20 May 2019
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Stop voting on race

PEP's Felicia Holder calls for change

PEP candidate for Belmont East Felicia Holder answers reporters questions in Port of Spain on nomination day, June 25.

PEP candidate for Belmont East Felicia Holder answers reporters questions in Port of Spain on nomination day, June 25. PHOTOS BY XAVIER SYLVESTER

WHEN Felicia Holder looked around at the political party options in the country she was very dissatisfied. But when she saw a live video by the Progressive Empowerment Party (PEP) and heard about their policies about securing the nation's borders she was drawn in.

The party's interim chairman and Belmont East candidate in the July 16 local government by-elections, was speaking with Sunday Newsday recently at PEP's headquarters at Stanmore Avenue, Port of Spain.

She said campaigning for Belmont East had been a lot of work but she was passionate about it. She added that she wanted to understand the failure of the other parties.

"How can you sell yourself as a solution when your party is part of the problem?"

She said complaints she had heard included littering, garbage collection and poor drainage.

"It all boiled down to simple management."

Holder, 30, who was born without her left forearm and describes herself as differently-abled, said TT was not very accommodating to the differently-abled and given a chance at local government she would advocate on their behalf.

She said things people were complaining about now they were complaining about two years ago.

"Twenty years ago I was begging for a street light for my street. We still don't have one," said the resident of Carr Street.

Holder said with the candidacy launch in Belmont in Piggot's Corner, previously the domain of the People's National Movement, it helped with some people recognising the party.

"We created history there. So some people are aware, some know us from Facebook. Some, when we tell them about it, it's their first time hearing about it. But...so far I have not experienced one person who has been like 'I am not interested at all.'"

She said some people did not know there was a third option and she was glad the message was getting out. Holder said she did not believe in being a "third force" but representation.

"I want people to open their eyes and understand it is not about red, yellow, orange or green or purple or blue. It is about who actually has solutions for the problems that you encounter."

She also commented on PEP political leader Phillip Edward Alexander who is known for controversial social media posts.

"He may come across abrasive but what I have experienced in my time knowing him is that he is a person, just like me, who is angry, who's fed up, who's frustrated with the way this country is being grossly mismanaged. I am just as angry as he is; maybe I don't say it as much. I'm not as vocal as he is. But his fight is the same things I am fighting for."

She said the party had not received fair opportunity and had no coverage of their 18 public meetings and more than 60 Saturday meetings.

"We are fighting against a system that has been set up deliberately to keep options like us stifled. And the fact that we are here today contesting a local election is already a win for me."

She said people were still gravitating to PEP's message despite some people describing Alexander as abrasive.

"Because it tells that people are not focusing on personality; they focusing on facts. They focusing on solutions. And that is what the PEP is presenting."

She added: "There is nothing that Phillip has put out in the public space that has been untrue. Some of the things that he says are uncomfortable. Some of the things that he says pushes the limits of people's sensitivity."

She said PEP was pushing the envelope, the race issue and trying to make people wake up and ask why things are the way they are. Holder said Alexander was a brilliant person who pushed boundaries and got people thinking critically.

She said she did not understand how her opponents in the elections were pushing the message of change.

"It's been decades we've been ping ponging between the PNM and the UNC and it's been decades Belmont East has been complaining about issues."

She said people should stop voting based on race, colour or what their parents used to do, but vote for someone with a real and honest reputation.

"I'm a very passionate, I'm a very hard-working person. And I tell my community put me in power. I might be 5'1 but I will fight really hard. If I have to go down and fight the corporation I will fight them."

Holder at a glance

BA Human Communications and BA Literatures in English from the University of the West Indies, St Augustine:

Attended St Augustine Girls’ High School

Interim chairman, Progressive Empowerment Party

Communications officer, Massy Wood Group Ltd.

Describes herself as a vibrant, passionate and driven young woman, with a determination to see TT and its people advance to where they should really be.

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