As candidates in the running to become elected members of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) in the January 25 election prepare to file their nominations at the offices of the returning officers at Calder Hall and John Dial today, one rejected PNM candidate is likely to file as an independent.
The incumbent Peoples National Movement (PNM) who currently holds 10 of the 12 electoral districts will go up against the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) which will also present twelve candidates for selection by the Tobago electorate.
Deputy Political Leader Farley Augustine will lead the Progressive Democratic Patriots, into the fight for control of the Tobago House of Assembly. The party, which was formed by Watson Duke in 2016, will field 12 candidates for all districts. For the first time, the Tobago Council of the PNM will seek the favour of the Tobago electorate led by a female, Tracy Davidson-Celestine who replaced Kelvin Charles as the political leader in January 2020.
There were two independent candidates contesting the elections Anthony Hector for the Black Rock/Whim district and Nikocy Phillips who will run for the Buccoo/Mt Pleasant district.
However, Guardian Media understands that yet another independent candidate will throw their hat in the ring today—this time for the Scarborough/Calder Hall district as Dr Denise Tsoaifatt Angus will also file nomination papers today.
Dr Angus who was screened in October by the PNM was rejected by the party’s screening committee. The committee instead chose to appoint the incumbent Marslyn Melville Jack as the candidate for the Scarborough/Calder Hall district. The decision did not sit well with a number of party supporters in the area who openly objected to the selection. Following the appointment, party members wrote several letters and engaged in several protest actions. Among the letters they wrote was one to the leadership of the party asking that the decision be rescinded as Dr Angus received the majority nominations from the district party groups.
On several occasions, signs and posters were posted in the district with the words “No Angus No Vote.” However, the leadership of the party remained resolute in their decision to proceed to the polls with Melville Jack.
The incumbent recently met with members of the party groups to garner their support. Guardian Media was able to gain access to a recording of that meeting where she said the party thought it was best that she remain as the candidate due to her performance over the last four years. However, she said the Political Leader of the Tobago Council of the PNM did make an offer to Dr Angus.
“There and then they turned to Dr Angus and the political leader who is the only person who could make an offer and she turned to Dr Angus and said I would like to bring you into the Tobago House of Assembly as a counsellor…you know when you come in as a councillor you can be a Secretary or Assistant Secretary and you have a division to run.”
Melville-Jack told the party group members that she believes she has the support of enough people in the district to bring home at least 2,000 seats. There are 4,314 eligible voters in the district. The suggestion didn’t sit well with the members, many of whom said they believed that many people were displeased with the decision and were prepared to withhold their votes. One party group member said she felt as if party members were being ignored.
“A lot more persons are talking out now right now they are not staying silent and this of great concern they are asking to have another candidate to represent them and nobody listen and they are concerned because people feel like someone is being forced on them and nobody listening anymore.”
Guardian Media reached out to both Marslyn Melville-Jack and the Dr Denise Tsoifatt Angus for comment but did not receive responses.