Unity of the People (UTP) political leader Nickocy Phillips said the party has received 17 applications from people interested in representing it in the upcoming THA elections.
But 16 of the 17 have been rejected.
At a press conference on Monday, Phillips said: “Five had pending matters before the court. Seven did not pass the screening stage – they did not meet the criteria of the screening committee – while the others had dual citizenship.
"So we are back to the drawing board, and we have applications still coming in. At this point in time, we cannot say who our candidates are but we are still taking in applications and persons are still contacting us.”
Nominations close on November 7.
Phillips, the lone candidate approved by the UTP's screening committee, will contest the Buccoo/ Mt Pleasant seat.
It will be the second time Phillips faces the polls after an unsuccessful campaign for the Tobago West seat in the general election. Phillips was the UTP's sole candidate then and might be its lone horse in the THA race.
“If I have to challenge the seat alone for Buccoo/Mt Pleasant I would do just so, as the political leader,” Phillips said. “If I have to compete alone, I will compete alone. I would be ready when the election date is called and even if is me alone, I would be ready to fight them.”
Phillips invited nominees rejected by the screening committees of other parties to join the Unity of the People.
"If you want to represent, and you are not being given the opportunity, our doors are open. We are here to bring unity with all the people of Tobago in spite of political affiliation. If you want that ticket to be there, if you want to be there to represent, why not come to a next party that will give you the opportunity to go and serve your community?”
Dr Denise Tsoiafatt-Angus, Sheldon Cunningham and Sherridon Kirk were some of those Phillips named as candidates the UTP would be willing to work with.
Phillips said some people are interested in joining the party but fear backlash from the PNM if they are unsuccessful in the election.
“I have told them bluntly, I cannot have a team of persons who are frightened to challenge the PNM or any other party. If it is that you cannot challenge the PNM or any other party, you cannot sit or even work alongside me...If you cannot defend your own democracy, you cannot defend the democracy of the Tobago people."
The PNM rolled out its slate of candidates last Tuesday,. Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis will contest Buccoo/Mt Pleasant.
Phillips said, “My chances are left up to the people. The people are the ones who have to choose.
“If it is that you want somebody who continues to neglect the area, that’s the kind of representation you want, fine by me. It’s all left to the people. At the end of the day, the people know the things that I would have done, from then to now and those that I continue to do. Our area continues to be neglected... there are a lot of issues in Buccoo that need to be addressed that continue to be ignored, and if it is that the people of Buccoo don’t see it fit and cannot and would not give me the opportunity to represent, that is not a problem to me. I would contest the election and that is my democratic right.”
Phillips said several projects have been left incomplete, while others need urgent attention, including the $6 million boardwalk project.
“The Buccoo boardwalk has started and stopped, started and stopped for close to 15 years.
“Poor draining and run-down sporting facilities are just some of the issues that have not been addressed in the Buccoo/Mt Pleasant district.”
Phillips promised people representation.
“I would give representation that would get the job done. I am not here for friends, I am here to get the work done... getting the work done is not a problem for me, but at the end of the day the people of Tobago need to wake up.”
Responding to Phillips' comments on Tuesday, Dennis said: “The people will have their say on that very shortly. Let’s wait and see their verdict.”