BOTH the PNM and UNC were bristling with confidence yesterday at their candidates’ prospects in the key marginal seat of Caura/Paradise/Tacarigua in the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation.
The PNM candidate was Aaron Thomas and the UNC's Prakash Barath.
At midday both camps reported great satisfaction with the turnout of their voters, adding that the overall turnout seemed to be slightly higher than in the last local elections, in 2016.
Tunapuna MP Esmond Forde was positively bubbling with enthusiasm when Newsday met him on Target Road, El Dorado, driving around in an SUV.
“We are going good. No major concerns," he said. "Voters have been turning out since 6 am. There have been no problems with the phones (which are barred from polling booths). The police turned out on time. Everything is going smoothly.”
Forde reckoned that by 11 am, about 125 people had voted at each of the four divisions at the school.
He was very optimistic about the re-election prospects of three PNM councillors whose seats fall within the Tunapuna constituency. These were Corey Selvon (Maracas/Santa Margarita), Aaron Thomas (Caura/Paradise/Tacarigua) and Travis Williams (Auzonville/Tunapuna.)
Forde said, “All three are looking good. All are going fine.”
Newsday met UNC Tunapuna constituency chairman Hamlyn Jailal at his campaign base on Caura Road.
He said, “As of 12 noon, based on our figures there is a very strong showing for our candidate for Caura/Paradise/Tacarigua, Prakash Barath. We are very confident the seat will come to the UNC.”
Jailal said the turnout was “significantly higher” than 2016, saying that augurs well for the UNC.
"By the people going to the polls, we have a fair idea they were UNC supporters.
"But historically, at 6-7 am you usually see long lines of known PNM supporters. But that was absent this morning.”
UNC former alderman Kevan Gibbs reckoned the UNC’s Peter Nero would win Maracas/Santa Margarita, where the PNM chose a new candidate, while the former councillor, Martin Gonzales, ran as an independent. Gibbs predicted the UNC taking two San Fernando seats and control of the Sangre Grande corporation.
Newsday met all four presiding officers at El Dorado West Secondary School for polling divisions 1705, 11706, 1707 and 1708.
“Smoothly,” “smooth,” “no complaints” and “everything’s fine” were their respective comments.
Newsday visited a PNM station occupied by four women on Target Road near the school. One said, “Yes, we are very happy. It is a smooth flow. For this time of day it is about the same as for 2016.”
After the lunchtime lull following the morning turnout, she reckoned voting turnout would again pick up later in the evening.
“There was a rush at 6 am. People came early and voted.”
At a nearby UNC station staffed by two women, one told Newsday, “We have got no problems. Everything is going okay for now.”
At a UNC station on Karamath Road outside El Dorado East Secondary School, a woman said, “Everything is going smoothly. The turnout is not bad. So far it’s good.
"This morning the turnout was more than the last time, 2016. Later it will pick up.”
At a nearby PNM station on Karamath Road, a party official told Newsday, “Everything is going smoothly so far. It is kind of low. This morning was slow. The last time it was the same way.”
Newsday visited another UNC station near the school and further east on that road, occupied by about five people. A woman simply said, “It is good for now.” A man added, “It is a better turnout than the last local election, but is not the same as for a general election.”