Kelvin, Tracy in PNM Tobago runoff today

Tracy Davidson-Celestine, left, will face PNM Tobago incumbent leader in a runoff to determine the party's next leader.  - DAVID REID
Tracy Davidson-Celestine, left, will face PNM Tobago incumbent leader in a runoff to determine the party's next leader. - DAVID REID

A week after the People's National Movement's (PNM's) Tobago Council held its internal election, the party's incumbent political leader Kelvin Charles will today face TT Ambassador to Costa Rica Tracy Davidson-Celestine in what is expected to be a keenly-contested runoff.

The winner will lead the council over the next four years.

Ironically, Charles had also competed against Davidson-Celestine and won in a runoff after the 2016 internal election.

However, on this occasion, Davidson-Celestine has joined forces with defeated leadership candidates, Deputy Tobago House of the Assembly Chief Secretary and Secretary for Finance and the Economy Joel Jack and former presiding officer Dr Denise Tsoiafatt-Angus in a bid to wrest control of the 22-year-old council.

The decision by Jack and Tsoiafatt-Angus to support Davidson-Celestine was conveyed in two separate statements on Friday.

In last Sunday's election, Charles and Davidson-Celestine got the most votes of the four leadership contenders in the race.

However, neither of them received 50 per cent of the votes to secure a clear mandate from the 5,111 members who cast their ballots in the election. An estimated 10,000 members were eligible to vote.

Charles, who is also Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary and the Black Rock/Whim/Spring Garden representative, received 1,513 votes as opposed to Davidson-Celestine's 1,447. Jack and Tsoiafatt-Angus, got 1,066 and 904 votes, respectively.

In that election, members also voted for some 16 other executive positions on the Tobago Council, including chairman, vice-chairman, general secretary, treasurer and PRO.

After the election, the Prime Minister met with the leadership candidates at his official residence in Blenheim.

The four candidates later held a joint news conference at the Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort, Lowlands, on Tuesday, at which they vowed to restore healing to the party. The news conference was chaired by PNM general secretary Foster Cummings.

Davidson-Celestine subsequently sought support from Jack and Tsoiafatt-Angus ahead of today's runoff election.

As was the case in last week's election, voting takes place at some 13 polling stations between 8 am and 6 pm.

Davidson-Celestine is expected to vote at the Argyle Community Centre while Charles will cast his ballot at the Bethesda Multi-Purpose Facility.

Meanwhile, Alvin Pascall, chairman of the elections supervisory committee, assured all mechanisms are in place.

"I want to say the answer is a big 'yes.' Everything is in place," he told Sunday Newsday.

However, Pascall said the procedure to count the ballots will be different.

"It will only be one ballot and the ballot style is different. So the counting should be a little bit faster."

Pascall could not say when the final ballot will be counted.

"I keeping the police out to 9 o'clock (pm). But then I told them that I will pay against their invoice if it is later. I am doing my best for a 9 o'clock finish. It may spill over a little bit later."

Last week, members complained that the length of time it took for the ballots to be counted.

Pascall said this was so because the one man, one vote system was used for the first time for all 17 positions on the executive.


"Kelvin, Tracy in PNM Tobago runoff today"

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