WHILE the PNM and UNC are both busy screening candidates for the local government elections, which are expected to be held in December or January, Newsday on Friday got widely varying responses when asking smaller parties if they too are screening.
Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) leader David Abdulah told Newsday his party will contest the local polls.
“Yes, nominations have opened. We haven’t started the screening process yet but sometime next month.”
Asked about any concerns, he said, “No. We are doing the work on the ground.”
Progressive Empowerment Party (PEP) leader Phillip Edward Alexander said his party will contest the general election but not local government elections. He said the Municipal Corporations Act should be abolished, and councils replaced by a constituency board of supervisors. “Local government does not work and is a waste of money,” he felt.
Progressive Party leader Nikoli Edwards told Newsday he was looking to the general election.
"The Progressive Party believes that we may not be able to mobilise resources in time for the local government election, having launched less than a month ago. However, we do intend to be on the ground and engage in voter education during the election. Should our circumstances change over the next few months we will indeed send forward candidates.
“As it stands we are preparing for the 2020 general election."
National Solidarity Assembly (NSA) head Nirvan Maharaj said he was meeting next week with activists to discuss running for the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation. In 2016 the NSA's vote-splitting with the UNC let the PNM win a seat and that council overall.
Maharaj said two NSA members are also interested in contesting seats on the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo and Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporations.
Saying he lacked the alleged financiers of the two big parties, he said, “We must operate within the limits of our resources.”
Maharaj felt the $5,000 election deposit should be reduced or eliminated.
“That seems to be a logical thing. People who want to serve their communities should be allowed to do so without fear of financial fallout.”
He said third parties and independent candidates are vulnerable to this financial burden of having to pay for miking (car microphone announcements), flyers and walkabout costs.
Congress of the People (COP) leader Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan said her party hopes first to hold a series of training sessions for individuals interested in becoming candidates, such as teaching public speaking and the idea of new politics.
“We are in this to make a difference. It makes no sense to go back into government just to get the same result. So we want to put out a different calibre of candidate for elections.” Seepersad-Bachan was upset that even as elections now loom, the Integrity Commission recently published a long list of elected politicians who had not filed their annual declaration of income, assets and liabilities.
“We are talking about law-makers breaking the law.”
Seepersad-Bachan said in elections the COP is at a serious disadvantage financially compared to big parties. “People are being bought out and this will not yield anything good for TT.”
Newsday was unable to contact Patriotic Front leader Mickela Panday.