Four major candidates for the Diego Martin Central constituency spoke to Guardian Media about their plans for the development of the area if elected in the upcoming general election.
The seat has been a traditional People’s National Movement (PNM) stronghold since 2007.
The outgoing PNM MP is Darryl Smith, who won the seat in 2015 with a landslide victory of 77 per cent of the vote.
According to the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) records, a total of 17,214 valid votes were cast in the constituency, with Smith copping 13,258 votes.
In the 2010 general election, the successful candidate for the Diego Martin Central constituency was Dr Amery Brown who won with 9,040 votes. He was first elected in that constituency in 2007.
Some of the biggest challenges that the constituency faces include crime, unemployment, and lack of opportunities for youth according to the candidates contesting this year’s election.
John Laquis, candidate for the United National Congress (UNC), Diego Martin Central said he intends to cut away the traditional bureaucracy to solve the problems of Diego Martin Central and everything he does will be people-focused.
Laquis is a businessman and has over 40 years of leadership experience in the oil marine, automotive, and hospitality industries.
One of the problems the constituency faces is garbage and clogged rivers and drains. To solve this, he wants to see new companies formed to deal with collecting garbage. He will encourage members of his constituency to form their own company after which they will be allowed to tender for projects to keep the area clean.
He also identified unemployment as a major problem and although he said he is not willing to give details as yet, he has plans to solve unemployment. Laquis has been going from door to door meeting and talking with constituents and he is confident that he will win the seat.
Symon de Nobriga, candidate for the PNM, Diego Martin Central, who is chairman of the Diego Martin Regional Corporation, wants to impact the young people of the constituency, by giving them the tools they need to express themselves fully as entrepreneurs, as creatives, and in agriculture.
He said he has already had the framework for a lecture series geared towards young and new business owners that combine skills training in areas such as accounting, effective use of social media, and proposal development with leadership training and mentorship sessions.
Coming from the background of Local Government he believes as a parliamentary representative, he can support the councillors in the constituency in their endeavors as well.
He said he is excited to work with the various ministries who impact the work of Local Government representatives.
He highlighted successful projects the PMM carried out in the area for the last last five years which included the Diego Martin Sporting Facility, the walkover at Four Roads, the Diego Martin Health Facility and the numerous community centres that have been built.
Garvin Nicholas, leader, Movement for National Development (MND), and candidate for Diego Martin Central said the development plan that they have is not only for Diego Martin Central but also for the entire Diego Martin area.
Nicholas, along with two other members of his party, will contest the Diego Martin seats.
Nicholas, who is from a legal background is a former attorney general for the People’s Partnership Government and a former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.
During the period 2010-2015 when he served as a non-elected member of the People’s Partnership, he successfully lobbied to have the Paramin RC constructed.
According to its 2020 manifesto, the MND will tackle the problem of food security through working with farmers and fisherfolk entrepreneurs to ensure that they use the latest technologies to produce the healthiest and most affordable food for consumers.
The MND intends to allocate 40-60 per cent of procurement budgets to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and this will allow them to build capacity, employ more people in the community and contribute to the sustainable development of the region.
If elected they intend to use tourism is another key pillar for diversification as Diego Martin is ideal for the development of a range of products in the eco-tourism, yachting, cultural, sport, and destination tourism sectors, with the possibility of creating a cruise ship hub.
Felicia Holder, the Progressive Empowerment Party (PEP) candidate for Diego Martin Central, said water, infrastructure and unemployment are some of the problems that she wants to target if she is elected.
Holder, whose professional background is in corporate communication in the energy sector, said there is a social division between the affluent parts of Diego Martin and the poorer parts.
She said in the Coco Jah area, residents are complaining that they do not have water and that is one major area she intends to focus on by having a decentralized water management system.
Her intention is to create more jobs in the area through skills training as she believes that some youths have no “hope and opportunity.”