Nomination Day for the Tobago House of Assembly Elections took place on December 31 and the Elections and Boundaries Commission has since released information to the Tobago News about the official candidates for the three parties that will contest the January 21 election. The People’s National Movement (PNM), The Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) and The Platform for Truth (TPT) are contesting in all 12 electoral districts with a total of 36 candidates.
In the Buccoo/Mt Pleasant electoral district, retiree Richard Alfred will be the standard bearer for the TOP, customer Service Officer Ancil Dennis will do the PNM’s batting while businessman Ricardo Phillip with be the candidate for the TPT. This is a seat to watch carefully as it is currently held by Albert Pilgrim – a PNM elected representative, who retired from his post as a secretary within the current PNM administration. Pilgrim has been relatively silent since his resignation from the Executive Council but he continues to represent his constituency.
Rolly Quaccoo, the TOP incumbent will defend the Canaan/Bon Accord seat against Huey Cadette of the PNM and Barry Nelson of the TPT. Both Quaccoo and Cadette have experience in the Assembly and it looks like this race it will come down strictly to ground organization and getting voters out on Election Day. Like many others, this constituency was keenly contested during the 2009 polls, with Quaccoo, edging the now deceased Frank Roberts by just a few votes.
The Bethel/Mt. Irvine seat will be contested by Handel Beckles for the PNM, Haynes Cowie-Clarke for the TPT and Sherry-Anne Rollocks-Hackett of the TOP. The seat is currently held by PNM’s Whitney Alfred. The veteran Alfred did not offer himself for re-election. Both Beckles and Hackett are facing the electorate for the first time.
Godwin Adams will lead the PNM in the Plymouth/Golden Lane electoral district while Certica Williams-Orr will do battle for the TOP.
What makes this race super interesting and a tough contest is the presence of Hochoy Charles, “the Heavy Roller.” Plymouth/Golden Lane was also a close call in the elections, four years ago and with the introduction of the experienced Hochoy Charles to the race, this is gearing up to be a tough seat for anyone to win.
Claudia Groome-Duke is returning to the polls as the PNM incumbent against Theodil McPherson of the TOP, and Curtis Douglas of the TPT in the Black Rock/Whim/Spring Garden electoral district. Groome-Duke has a history of victory at the polls but this is not to say that she isn’t in for a tough fight against McPherson.
Ashworth Jack of the TOP will face off against Sheldon Cunningham of the PNM and Ernest Belfon of the TPT in the Providence/Mason Hall/Moriah electoral district. Jack is the longest serving Assemblyman on the island and the defending incumbent of this seat. While we may easily want to assume this is a TOP safe seat, we will have to wait and see the degree of mobilization of the PNM and TPT to unseat the TOP leader.
Lambeau/Signal Hill is currently being held by the PNM , but it will not be defended by the sitting incumbent, but rather Jomo Pitt, will face off against TOP’s Robinson Alleyne. Even though this is usually referred to as a safe seat for the PNM, Minister of Justice Christlyn Moore who is from Lambeau, has been on the campaign trail supporting TOP’s Robinson Alleyne effort to capture it for the TOP. David Fraser will contest the seat for the TPT.
Orville London, PNM political leader will return to his old stomping ground of Scarborough/Calder Hall in a rematch against Anthony Arnold of the TOP. Development Consultant Andre Phillips will contest the seat for the TPT. Will Arnold unseat London this time? It is difficult to say, but it was very close the last time and Arnold has been on the ground for four years working actively in the community, while residents of the community say London has done much work there over the last few years.
The TOP will defend the Bacolet/Mt. St. George seat but with newcomer Gladstone Solomon against Joel Jack of the PNM and Juliana Henry-King of the TPT. With no assumptions, this race is up for grabs and will depend solidly on momentum, ground organization and getting voters out.
The Goodwood/Belle Garden West electoral district will be contested by the incumbent Steve Jack of the TOP, Pertrina Shanghie of the TPT and Hayden Spencer of the TOP. To what degree has the PNM made inroads into this constituency or to what degree are residents unsatisfied with Steve Jack’s representation is left to be seen and it comes down to the ground game and voter turnout.
In the Belle Garden East/Roxborough/Delaford electoral district, Hilton Sandy will return to the polls as the incumbent for the PNM to face the electorate against Anslem Richards of the TOP. This is a hotly contested race and both parties appear fully mobilized for a fight to the end. Senya Martin will contest the seat for the TPT.
In another rematch and probably one of the closest races in this election is in the Parlatuvier/L’Anse Fourmi/Speyside electoral district. Tracy Davidson-Celestine returns as the PNM incumbent and Fitzherbert Taylor will once again do the TOP’s bidding. Both candidates from opposite ends of the district have their respective bases, geographically and demographically but will have to deal with the effects of the presence of TPT candidate Samuel Mapp.