THE Opposition UNC on Monday night wrested the Arima Central district away from the PNM in the local government by-elections. The UNC also retained the Cunupia and Hindustan/St Mary's districts.
The PNM meanwhile seemed on course to retain control of the Hollywood and Alyce Glen/Morne Coco districts.
Addressing party supporters at the M Rampersad Building in San Fernando, UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said, "The breaking news tonight is that the UNC has won the Arima Central seat. They told me before, but I didn't want to announce it till I saw the statement of poll. This confirms Arima Central is now in the House of the Rising Sun."
UNC Arima Central candidate Sheldon Garcia won with 700 votes, while PNM's Dr Juliet Bernard had 692 votes.
Persad-Bissessar did not provide figures for Hindustan/St Mary's. Preliminary results in that district showed the PNM's Martina Loubon Legendre having 1,088 votes, the UNC's Tylon Farrell had 1,178, Independent candidate Ariel Saunders had 550 votes and Independent candidate Peterson Morales got 30 votes.
Persad-Bissessar said, "The UNC has kept in the House of the Rising Sun Cunupia, in the Borough of Chaguanas.The UNC had held and kept the Hindustan/St Mary's."
While saying reports suggested the voter turnout was low owing to a combination of election fatigue and the covid19 pandemic, Persad-Bissessar said, "People who felt it important enough to vote came out to vote."
She declared the by-election results would help the UNC go into the House of Representatives "fortified and strengthened" to debate a no-confidence motion against National Security Minister Stuart Young.
Commenting on the by-election results, Youth Development Minister Fitzgerald Hinds confirmed that the PNM had won Hollywood and Alyce Glen/Morne Coco but lost Arima Central, which it previously held.
"We won two in Trinidad and lost one that we previously held, Arima Central."
While some results did not go the PNM's way in the by-elections, Hinds said, the party "is a very experienced political outfit" which has contested all elections in Trinidad and Tobago since its birth in 1956.
"In this business of electoral politics, you win some, you lose some. We have been in opposition before and we have worked ourselves out of opposition back to government."
Hinds said the PNM will review what happened in Arima Central "in terms of a post-mortem to see what might have caused that result that we experienced and take action to rectify that in the quickest possible time."
He said Loubon Legendre made "tremendous inroads" in Hindustan/St Mary's and the party was pleased with her performance.
Hinds said everyone who offered themselves to serve the people in the by-elections should be congratulated for doing so.
Preliminary results in Hollywood saw the PNM's Leslie Chang Fong winning Hollywood with 394 votes and Independent candidate Christopher Wright making a strong showing with 307, while the UNC's Daniel John only managed to get 58 votes.
Chang Fong declared, "This is a victory for the people of Hollywood and for the party."
PNM Alyce Glen/Morne Coco campaign manager Sigler Jack said the party's candidate for the district Jinelle Schulere-Smart was on course to retain the seat with 989 votes while the UNC's John Laquis had 107 votes. Reports suggested that voter turnout in the by-elections was low.
There were approximately 32,351 people registered to vote in Monday's by-elections.
The successful candidates will only have a year to sit as local government representatives as local government elections will be held in 2022.
Registered voters in each by-election district
Local govt corp District Total registered voters
Arima Borough Corp Arima Central 4,147
Diego Martin Regional Corp Morne Coco/Alyce Glen 8,415
Point Fortin Borough Corp Hollywood 2,748
Princes Town Regional Corp Hindustan/St Mary's 8,723
Chaguanas Borough Corp Cunupia 8,318