PNMs Leslie Chang Fong, left, and UNC candidate Daniel John give each other an elbow bounce at Patrick Gordon Building in Point Fortin after filing their nomination papers, yesterday, to contest the upcoming Local Government by-election in January for the district of Hollywood Point Fortin.

The electoral district of Hollywood in Point Fortin has been under the People’s National Movement (PNM) representation for more than two decades, however opposing forces believe that will change on January 25 as the party selected the wrong man for the job.

Point Fortin Deputy Mayor Leslie Chang Fong is contesting the seat recently vacated by former mayor Kennedy Richards Jr, who won the Point Fortin constituency in last August’s General Elections.

Chang Fong sits in the Point Fortin Borough Corporation council as an alderman but seeks to represent a district that Richards Jr and his late father oversaw.

As candidates submitted their nominations to the Elections and Boundaries Commission’s returning officer yesterday, independent candidate Christopher Wright and United National Congress (UNC) candidate Daniel John said Chang Fong was unsuitable because he does not live in the area.

Wright, a stores clerk at the Ministry of Works and Transport, screened for the PNM but was not selected. After seeing who the party chose, he decided to contest the elections independently.

“I always believe when it comes to local government, you always get local representation from the area itself. The PNM candidate is not from the area. He does not know the people in the area. He does not know the needs and the wants in the area, so it will be challenging for him to work the area,” Wright said.

John agreed with Wright, saying that because Chang Fong does not live in the district, he has not experienced what residents face and could not deliver what they need. John said the PNM was in power for a long time and that electing them again would only bring more of the same.

“If you are not in the area, you cannot really do anything for the area because you do not understand the real needs of the area. In terms of one of the candidates, who is an alderman, you have been an alderman since before and the problems are still there,” John said.

However, Chang Fong believes he has the best team to win the election with former Point Fortin Mayor Francis Bertrand and retired ACP Donald Denoon assisting his campaign. Chang Fong said issues such as infrastructure and squatter regularisation would be atop his agenda if he wins the elections.

In Princes Town, the Hindustan/ St Mary’s district is up for grabs as former councillor Michelle Benjamin won the Moruga constituency in last August’s general elections. Her fellow UNC colleague Tylon Farrell hopes to fill the seat she left in the Princes Town Regional Corporation. Farrel, a fabricator and business owner, believes people would elect him because he is a man of the soil.

“I am from St Mary’s, Moruga. I am accustomed to going to the Tableland area via sports and stuff like that and dealing with the people who more are downtrodden in the area. One of the key things I think I will win the election with is trying to revitalize the area using culture,” Farrel said.

He also wants to use sports to create a positive impact on the youths in his area.

For PNM candidate Martina Loubon-Legendre, she hopes to build on the votes she got when she suffered defeat in the 2019 local government elections. Loubon-Legendre contested the New Grant/Tableland electoral district that time but is confident of being elected as the only PNM councillor in the Princes Town Regional Corporation council.

For anyone looking for an alternative to the main parties, Ariel Saunders is offering his services. Saunder said people are fed-up of the PNM and UNC.

“We are at a point in our history in Trinidad & Tobago where people can no longer stomach or stand or bear the burdens that come with the PNM and UNC. And so people are looking forward to something different,” Saunders said.