Point Fortin MP-elect Kennedy Richards Jr says he is neither surprised by his victory nor did he expect a close race. In fact, if not for heavy rainfall and a low voter turnout, he said he could have easily gotten about 3,000 more votes.
While official results are yet to be published by the Election and Boundaries Commission, Richards defeated his opponents UNC’s Taharqa Obika, Movement for Social Justice’s (MSJ’s) Ernesto Kesar, Progressive Empowerment Party’s (PEP’s) Kenesha Ramsoondar and TT Democratic Front’s Nicholas Williams.
In a live video on Monday night, he thanked God, his family and Point Fortin constituents for their continued support. He said since the campaign season was so “short and hectic,” it was a true test of the energy of his team.
An admittedly tired Richards told Newsday on Tuesday morning, the support he received was overwhelming as people who usually say they hated or never wished to become involved in politics were inspired by him.
“It felt good knowing that so many people came up to me and said, ‘Aye, first time I voting inno.’ That was really special because politics is something you do with your heart. The gratitude is always something that gives you that extra energy to keep going.”
Based on Newsday’s observations and from speaking to voters, the voting process in Point Fortin was efficient and was not time-consuming on Monday. The weather was mostly sunny for the morning period of voting but heavy rainfall just after noon partially flooded some roadways and fields.
Richards said, “The voter turnout was extremely low. The normal voter turnout in Point Fortin is 16,000 to 17,000. The weather was a major factor. I could have possibly gotten 3,000 more votes.”
During his tenure as mayor of the borough, he introduced digital strategies such as fintech (financial technology) to work towards a cashless system to improve the safety of residents. And he also held regular, online meetings under the title Point Online which were streamed live on Facebook. He said he will continue to help Point Fortin become pro-digital.
“We have to keep bringing technology into the way we do things and that’s one of the main things I’ll bring to the table – a breath of fresh air.”
He said he is ready for the transition from mayor to MP but admitted being an MP is not going to be an easy task.
“I don’t get into something just to back down. I don’t back down. I am ready.
“The reality is that as a mayor, you’re functioning in local government. And when you function in local government, you have certain restrictions even though you have resources. The mayor has a whole corporation behind him. But in Parliament, you can affect change through policies and the whole country can get behind you. And when the entire nation gets behind you and see what you want to do…”
He said the “entire main road from as far as La Brea to Icacos” needs major transformation, and has been one of the most frequent complaints of constituents.
“The road is terrible, so that is something that should be addressed.
“I am someone who sticks to my word and I am going to work with the community to establish plans for a strategic plan going forward. I am not making a strategic plan for just five years.
In his Facebook live video on Monday night, Richards had also said he does not wish to be MP for just five years. If God allows, he said, he wishes to be Point Fortin’s MP for up to 25 years.
Asked about this, he said, “You know politics is something that has a shelf life. But some shelf lives are more than others. Dr Rowley, Colm Imbert, Patrick Manning – they would have had long, long tenures as MPs. Even on the other side with the UNC, there are those who spent extensive time in Parliament.”
Richards replaces former MP Edmund Dillon.
In a Facebook post, Obika said, “I accept the will of my people of Point Fortin. All the best to the MP Kennedy Richards. I will continue to build Point Fortin.”
And Kesar, in a Facebook live video, said he was happy for Richards and also congratulated him, adding, “We ran a very clean campaign with dignity. We spoke about the issues, we spoke facts…At the end of the day, we did what we had to do and we will do it again until there is social justice and balance in that parliament.
Williams, also on Facebook, posted, "All the best to the real Point Fortin candidates who are about the real development of our Point Fortin and environs."