The candidates for the January 25 Arima Central by-election were both confident of victory as they filed their nomination papers on Monday at the La Horquetta Regional Complex in La Horquetta, Phase 2.
UNC candidate Sheldon Garcia said the process went smoothly. He said he was confident of victory as he is a home-grown son of the soil.
“The people are getting proper representation this time around. I’m a man of the community, I work with a lot of charitable organisations, I have a school bus transport service, I’m involved with a lot of youth and sporting activities.
"We’re going to change the game and focus on the youth. The place has been neglected for a very long time and people in the community know I’m involved, so we’re going to do a lot of sport in the area for the youth, and focus on the infrastructure such as drainage and so forth.”
PNM candidate Dr Juliet Hilary Bernard said the process went smoothly, as it took about three minutes to present her nomination papers to the returning officer. She said the smooth start to the campaign made her even more sure of winning the by-election.
“All of the people out here to support on a Monday morning: I know it’s going to be a successful campaign, we’re doing this together. Thanks to Arima MP Pennelope Beckles for being here. Councillor Terry Rondon has come from Sangre Grande to offer his support, as well as our mayor, and the councillors of the Arima Borough Corporation are here as well. So I have tremendous support and I can’t help but feel confident and with God’s grace we will be victorious.”
She made special mention of former mayor D’Abadie/O’Meara MP Lisa Morris-Julian, who previously held the Arima Central seat.
“She has offered me her full support, and because she has done such a wonderful job, and so many people are endeared to her, it makes it a lot easier for me going through this electoral process, so no pressure whatsoever. My two MPs are here to show their support.
"I have a unique position in having a seat that straddles two constituencies, so we have serious woman power here this morning, and we’re going to make that into a victory.”
Bernard said her involvement with the community of Arima makes her certain voters will make the right choice.
“I have been serving as a dentist in Arima for the last 30 years. I also serve as a lay minister at the Santa Rosa RC Church, I’ve been involved with Abilene Athletics Club since I was a teenager. There are a number of different groups, initiatives I’ve been a part of over all these years, so I don’t feel any intimidation whatsoever. I’ve served on the Arima Borough Council from 2013-2015, and that was a very successful run, and having that experience prepared me even more for coming back in this time.”
Bernard said she has met Garcia and knows him well from the community.
‘Over the years he has worked in my area with the children when we had physical schooling. I know him, we greet each other – there won’t be any animosity – but we know where the victory lies.”
Morris-Julian said Bernard was the only person who came to mind when it came to filling the Arima Central seat.
“It’s a seat that I care passionately about, and I was very lucky to serve for almost seven years. When we were looking for a candidate, the only person that came to me was Dr Bernard, and she’s a strong woman, I’m a strong woman, and I think she wouldn’t just do well in Arima Central, she would surpass me. I don’t know anyone who is more responsible and more loyal.
"So I think the people of Arima Central will be extremely lucky to have Dr Hillary Bernard right after me and I think she’ll make not just the PMN but Arima proud."