Pennelope Beckles-Robinson

Nominees for the last outstanding People’s National Movement constituencies will be screened on Saturday, including Arima, Toco-Sangre Grande and La Brea – and there’ll be no Zoom platform screening of any nominee overseas.

As a result of the elimination of electronic screening, former Arima MP Pennelope Beckles-Robinson, who’s overseas, appears to be out of the running for the Arima candidacy. She’s T&T’s permanent representative to the United Nations and based in New York and unable to return home due to the lockdown of the borders due to COVID-19.

On Monday, PNM general secretary Foster Cummings said the seats which weren’t completed yet will be screened on Saturday, including Arima. Asked if Zoom or similar technology would be used for Beckles-Robinson as one of Arima’s prospective nominees as she is overseas, Cummings said neither Zoom nor any other electronic process would not be used.

Beckles-Robinson had submitted a consent letter to be nominated recently and was one of three nominees who received support from party groups and the executive.

Arima executive chairman Cagney Cassimire on Monday said incumbent MP Anthony Garcia had received support from eight party groups, Dr Hillary Bernard from three and Beckles-Robinson from five. He said Garcia received 11 votes from executive members, Bernard got seven and Beckles-Robinson five.

Cassimire he said he hadn’t heard from Beckles-Robinson since she offered her consent letter for nomination. He said he’d recently asked Beckles-Robinson’s agent what arrangement she was making to return for screening but they were unclear.

“So I had concerns whether all our nominees would be screened. We had some idea of how the interviewing of people from overseas might be when we saw what happened to Mayaro’s nominee (Antonio Ross), who was overseas and asked to be screened via Zoom. This wasn’t done.”

Ross, who was Mayaro’s recommended nominee, had to withdraw since he was unable to return. Mayaro was told a nominee had to present themselves for screening.

Cassimire added, “Screening is the ambit of the screening team, they set the rules – we abide by them. I’d really hoped all our nominees could be screened. But if the screening team has rules they must follow and complete things in a certain time, I can’t object.”

Beckles-Robinson didn’t answer calls or queries yesterday.

Rondon among 8 for Toco-Grande

Toco Sangre-Grande is expected to have several nominees for Saturday. Up to Monday, consent letters were received from eight people, from Toco councillor Martin Terry Rondon, executive officials confirmed.

Contacted on Monday, Rondon said he was en route to meeting the 19 party groups. When nominees for Toco Sangre-Grande were first being screened, Rondon told the T&T Guardian he hadn’t submitted nomination as he was seeing his doctor for medical advice at the time. Yesterday, however, Rondon said his doctor has given him the “okay.”

Party group officials said the candidate should be someone who could unite the constituency, where the UNC won the Sangre Grande corporations in Local Government polls six months ago. They said the person should be able to bring back areas which PNM once controlled.

On issues in La Brea where there were 11 nominees up to last Sunday – yet the executive maintained support for rejected nominee Robert Le Hunte – party secretary Cummings said the party didn’t have concerns that La Brea might pushback on the Le Hunte aspect.

“People are coming forward,” Cummings noted.

“They’ll all be screened on Saturday and the screening team will make a decision. I spoke to the chairman (on Monday) and he’s said they’re seeking nominees.”

Also on Monday, La Brea executive officials only said the issue is being “worked out …”

Lopinot-Bon Air West is also seeking nominees after several, including PNM PRO Laurel Lezama-Lee Sing, weren’t accepted last week. The area initially submitted five, then three, during a second time. Lopinot-Bon Air West officials said about five people have indicated interest but no consent letters were in hand yet.

Also being screened on Saturday will be Mayaro nominee, former national netballer Bridgette Adams.