Traditionally by-elections have low-voter turnouts and this year was no different at the polls in Point Fortin.
Candidates contesting the local government bye-election for the electoral district of Hollywood were hoping that their campaigns were enough to gather the necessary votes for a place on the Point Fortin borough council.
When Guardian Media visited the polling stations at the Fanny Village Community Centre and the Point Fortin West Secondary School, voters were scarce, and polling agents said it was that way since the start of voting at 6 am.
People’s National Movement (PNM) candidate Leslie Chang Fong was hopeful that voters would turn up after the end of their workday. Chang Fong, an alderman and deputy mayor of Point Fortin, remained confident that victory was his.
The district has been represented by the PNM for the past two decades, with Point Fortin MP Kennedy Richards Jr vacating the post after his election to Parliament last August.
Before Richards Jr, his father, the late Kennedy Richards held the seat.
Chang Fong said his team expected a slow morning but looked forward to an increase in the afternoon. Acknowledging that bye-elections usually attracted fewer electors, he added that voting was not normally high in the district.
However, Chang Fong said his team worked to ensure a high turnout.
“I am very, very confident. The People’s National Movement is a party that is not a stranger to election campaigning. I have a very experienced team, and I have full confidence in the team, and of course the people of Hollywood in responding to our efforts, and who I am, resoundingly at the polls,” Chang Fong said.
United National Congress candidate Daniel John believed his campaign brought a change of mindset to people in the district. John wanted to create history by becoming the first UNC member to gain a seat on the Point Fortin borough council.
“Campaigning went well. I hope people really got the message, which basically was to change their habits, change their thinking and bring their votes according to how they think. It does not matter who you vote for; you can basically say why you voted for the candidate, not just the habit of saying, that is my party’.”
While he remained confident, regardless of the results, he pledged to continue serving the communities of Hollywood.
Independent candidate Christopher Wright said the low voter turnout was good for him as it signalled voter’s rejection of the PNM and UNC. Wright, screened for the PNM but after the party chose Chang Fong, he decided to contest as an independent.
“Young people want representation. Young people want jobs. Young people want betterment for themselves. They are not going to keep the same philosophy that, ‘I am going with this party until I am dead’. Everybody wants a change, so I believe this is my time, and the community and the electorate of Hollywood will give me that chance this time around.”
All three candidates found no issue with the voting process.