Former People's National Movement (PNM) Tobago Council leader Kelvin Charles, who announced on Tuesday he will be stepping down as Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary at the end of April, says his future in politics will be determined by his supporters and those who valued his representation.
Speaking to reporters during a news conference at the party's Scarborough headquarters, Charles said: "From where I sit, our kind of politics represents a view on representation and if you are representing, then you are representing people. So that my future in politics depends on those people whom I currently represent and I shall take their counsel seriously. So that if, at the end of the day, they are minded to do otherwise, then clearly I would have to understand and be guided by that sentiment."
Charles lost the leadership of the Tobago Council to Tracy Davidson-Celestine in a fiercely contested runoff election on January 26.
Davidson-Celestine won the leadership with the support of Deputy Chief Secretary Joel Jack and former THA presiding officer Dr Denise Tsoiafatt Angus, both of whom had unsuccessfully contested the leadership post at the internal election on January 19.
Charles, who remains an elected assemblyman until next year's THA election, said he is pleased with his performance as Chief Secretary.
"I am particularly happy because I am sure that in the Tobago space, it has been said that we have achieved a lot during the period being reviewed and, therefore, to the extent that in providing services to the people, that statement represents the general consensus, then to that extent I am happy because one came to this position to serve and therefore, in that regard, I have served well."
Charles said he had no qualms about relinquishing the position because the party needed to heal after the gruelling internal election.
"Quite frankly, the party had been on pause, so to speak, and persons within the party and the party itself as a collectivity were hurting and I felt that the time had come, and I think Mrs Davidson as well, that the party needed to exhale. We met and came to the position that we have articulated here today (Tuesday) so that the party can breathe again."
Charles said after he demits office as Chief Secretary he would no longer be entitled to live in the official residence.
"The Chief Secretary, as one of his benefits, if one were to use that phrase, is entitled to housing provided by the State. So that once a Chief Secretary demits office it is anticipated that that Chief Secretary would no longer have the benefit that I just described. And may I say to you that prior to coming into office, this gentlemen had a modest but wonderful house and home that he lived in and I shall gracefully return to such premises after I demit office."
Charles also dismissed claims the post-runoff wrangling within the party affected the running of the THA.
"I don't know that I share that view because the executive council of the THA continued its work. The divisions continued their work. The party had an issue in respect of transitioning and that did take some time to work out.
"As I indicated, we are on unchartered waters and this is where we are. But I do not subscribe to the view that the business of the THA per se was affected."
Asked if he was disappointed at having lost the internal election: "I don't know anyone who enters a race to lose and certainly it was my intention to win. I did not win and, therefore, a chain of actions was then set in place given the fact that I did not retain the political leadership of the party."