CALLUM Marshall – La Brea candidate for the New National Vision (NNV) – is pleading with constituents not to be afraid of voting for smaller parties. If elected, he said, he will fight for the development of the community.
Marshall told Newsday he was born and bred in the area and is known for playing and coaching football. He also runs the Made in La Brea Youth Academy, which focuses on youth development through the sport.
This is his first involvement with politics. Asked “Why now?” he said he is tired of poor representation for the area.
“I always considered ‘politics’ to be a bad word, to be honest, because of the impression the average person seems to have about politicians and their behaviour. But I am simply just fed up, so I am tired of our usual conversations as Trinidadians, where we discuss the way the country is going but not doing anything about it.
"So I decided to offer up myself for service to the people.”
He said he has been following the party’s leader – Fuad Abu Bakr – for “quite some time,” adding that they share many sentiments. He said the NNV is the “best choice for the constituents of La Brea.
“I have concerns about the PNM…If you look at the decisions they are making, it appears to be governed or influenced by party supporters. I really couldn’t get behind that.
“And the NNV is the first party that offered me an opportunity in a serious way. (For a long time), people have been asking me, ‘Why you don’t go up with the PNM?’ but they never officially came and asked me.”
He said he went to an NNV meeting in the area and was impressed. He, too, spoke at the meeting and said this was where they became interested in him.
He said campaigning has been bittersweet because, “It’s great to actually go out there and meet people and try to get your message across, but it’s also really heartwrenching. I thought I knew (more than I do about constituents’ concerns) but I really didn’t until I got on that campaign trail and see the conditions some people live in and hear their stories.”
He said underemployment, unemployment and lack of opportunities for youth development, along with a slowly increasing crime rate, are some of the major concerns expressed by constituents.
“We are a proud people and we have a skilled workforce, but it doesn’t have the work (opportunities) to sustain that workforce. La Brea has some work opportunities, but they don’t seem to be going to La Brea people. I’m not saying people from anywhere else shouldn’t work here, but…
“One of our biggest concerns is that our contractors are not getting a fair opportunity to work. You could have economic stabilisation in La Brea if our local contractors are engaged in our urban redevelopment. (But) our economy is dying.”
He said the feedback from his walkabouts has been “amazing,” but added that some seemed uncertain about supporting a small party.
“Most people know me – I’m 'Marshall' – but when I mention the party’s name, they feel a little off.
“We don’t have the finances to run those hour-long programmes on television. Our biggest challenge is notoriety and getting our names out there. It’s minuscule in comparison to the other parties but with time, effort and hard work, we are going to get our message out there and our chances will improve as time goes by.”
He said if one were to randomly ask La Brea constituents if they are pleased with the current level of governance, 50 per cent would say no, and 50 per cent would refuse to answer because they are afraid to say no.
“La Brea has long been neglected. How can La Brea be so faithful to the PNM?
"Look at the level of development in La Brea as opposed to other PNM-faithful communities. And we contribute so much to the national treasury. We have LABIDCO (La Brea Industrial Development Company), the Pitch Lake, Lake Asphalt, credit union, Mitsubishi, deepwater harbour.
"But yet still, look at other communities who don’t even contribute a quarter of that but we are not even a quarter as developed.”
He said the constituents have not been holding politicians accountable for their behaviour.
The constituency also needs facilities such as a fire station and a hospital.
“Lobby is too small of a word, I will fight for it…
"Don’t be afraid to vote for the NNV. A lot of people are concerned about the chances of small parties winning. As a man say (to me), ‘I might waste my vote.’
"But you need to vote to have a chance to win. So if everyone says they would be wasting their vote so they aren’t voting, nobody else will have a chance. Because you could be wasting your vote on the PNM and the UNC.
"Don’t be afraid to vote for a small party.”