The council chamber of the Siparia Regional Corporation has been a political battleground over the last three years with the United National Congress (UNC) holding a slight majority. Both parties are now seeking to win at least two more seats in the December 2 local government elections for proper control over the region.
There was much banter between PNM and UNC supporters at the Siparia Market Plaza as the candidates submitted their nominations without problems. The MSJ also submitted their nominations as well.
“Who we voting for? PNM!” countered UNC’s “PNM must go!” chants in the car park. While it was friendly at most times, there were fighting words from the candidates.
Following the 2016 polls, the UNC won five out of the nine electoral districts, but electing a chairman became difficult when Leo Doodnath, the former SRC chairman, declared himself an independent. This left the council at a deadlock, but Ramadharsingh was eventually elected as chairman amidst some controversy. Doodnath has since bowed out and Ramona Victor is seeking to replace him as the UNC councillor for Siparia East/San Francique South.
Siparia West/Fyzabad incumbent Maurice Alexander and his UNC challenger Jason Ali met for a brief moment and shook hands. However, Alexander was confident he will retain his seat.
He said based on the issues PNM council members had with Ramadharsingh over the years, he said the people noticed and will make the right choice.
“For the past three years, the country knows we had a lot of issues with Dr Ramadharsingh and the UNC. However, coming down to the last we settled down and we began working well. I foresee this time around, the people know the right choice and on December 2, they will allow us to once and for all, manage their affairs locally,” Alexander said.
But Ali said he will win by a large margin. He said Alexander served for two terms and there are people in his district who claim they’ve only seen their representative during election season. He said full representation and constant contact with his burgesses is what he offers.
“They have promised to do a lot of things in the area and nobody has ever got anything substantial. There is no work being done in certain parts of Siparia West/ Fyzabad. We have some work going on, but in targeted areas.”
PNM first-timer Natkether Richards, who is seeking to unseat UNC incumbent Avocat/San Francique North councillor Doodnath Mayrhoo said that while the campaign is a challenge, she has the right support to get the job done. She said the infrastructure and lighting are issues that need to be addressed in her electoral district, adding that the incumbent does nothing.
“Most of the people in the area don’t know who is the incumbent. They don’t see him at all because he does nothing there. Since I was born and raised in that area and everybody knows me, I stand a better chance,” Richards said.
Mayrhoo is confident that not only would he regain his seat, but that Ali would defeat Alexander.
“I am saying 6-3 at this point in time, taking into consideration what this government did over the last four years. I think the population has been waiting patiently for this opportunity to send a signal to the government that enough is enough,” Mayrhoo said.
While Ramdharsingh has complained that the Ministry of Finance had starved the corporation of funds, Mayrhoo said the people would vote UNC, and rally until 2020 when the UNC returns to Government.