TOP: Gladstone Solomon

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Bacolet/Mt St George

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By Anna Ramdass

As we draw closer to the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election, the Express today looks at the electoral district of Bacolet/Mt St George, which was represented by the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) over the past four years.

According to the Election and Boundaries Commission (EBC) supplemental voters list, there are some 3,505 people registered to vote in the Bacolet/Mt St George electoral district.

The Express spoke to the three candidates from the TOP, the People's National Movement (PNM) and The Platform of Truth (TPT), who shared their vision for Tobago and why should they be elected to the THA.

A total of 36 candidates from the three parties will be contesting 12 electoral districts in the THA election on January 21.

TOP candidate: Gladstone Solomon, 63, apiculturist.

Why should you be elected?

I resigned from the position of director, Management Services Unit, in the Office of the Chief Secretary, when I was selected as a TOP candidate for the upcoming THA elections.

My decision to make myself available to be of service to the electoral district as their elected representative is based on my record of service to the community in the past (over 25 years' active involvement in the community steelband, Hope Pan Groovers, 30 years' service to the community as a beekeeper, involvement at the executive level in PTAs and several NGOs). My desire is to continue being of service to humanity, and the opportunity presented to do so through the electoral process.

Further, I consider myself to be uniquely disposed to representational leadership because I am open to new ideas, people-focused, internally directed and results-centred.

My vision is for a cohesive, caring community where residents feel motivated to explore their potential and pursue their dreams within a Tobago that is progressing with the rest of the enlightened world toward the 22nd century.

In order to establish myself as a representative who is worthy of the trust of the electorate, I have committed to an agreement with residents of the electoral district that, when elected, I will:

• Effectively represent all residents of the electoral district.

• Convene open-forum community consultations with the respective communities within the electoral district within two months.

• Report on a quarterly basis, via a newsletter, on my activities as an elected representative.

• Establish, within three months, a Community Support Fund to assist with the development of the human resource capital within the district.

• Contribute my first month's salary as an elected representative and ten per cent of my salary for each successive month into the Community Support Fund.

PNM candidate:

Joel Jack, 39,

programme coordinator in the Financial Literacy Secretariat in the Division of Finance and Enterprise Development.

Why should you be elected?

I believe I am the best candidate as I have the right combination of youth, experience, education and training and competence for the job. All this really brings effective representation to the electoral district of Bacolet/Mt St George.

I think that I am suitably qualified to represent all the people and treat with the issues.

There are a lot of social issues in terms of youth unemployment, infrastructure and drainage issues and problems related to crime and juvenile delinquency.

I will continue to build on the work of the THA—providing affordable housing to people in the electoral district- phase two of the Blenhim housing project.

We need to expand and support business enterprise within the district. The assembly has two programmes—the Enterprise Development Fund programme and the Enterprise Assistance Grant, which can be expanded to make them more accessible to persons in the community so they can improve their business operations.

There is need for support in agriculture and fishing in that regard and the expansion of the Hope Farm.

To increase research and innovation in agriculture would lead to farms moving from primary to secondary in agricultural production.

We want to see people get involved in processing and also be suppliers to projects already established by the assembly—for example, the cassava processing plant will come on stream in 2013 or 2014, providing for contract farmers in that regard.

The young adults need to be empowered within the district through continuous education, computer literacy, entrepreneurial education, money management and life skills.

There are three community centres within the district and the recently opened John Donaldson Centre which can be used to promote lifelong learning and bring the classroom closer to the community.

We need to upgrade sporting facilities and add to the existing infrastructure within the electoral district of Mt St George.

There are social issues to be addressed—single parents and we need to treat with the elderly. Part of my vision is to have a senior citizens' appreciation day and award ceremony to recognise the work of the elderly.

TPT candidate:

Juliana Henry-King, 39, labour relations

inspector.

Why should you be elected?

The people should elect me because I want to be more than a candidate in a political setting, but a servant for the people.

I think we need to understand that liberty needs to start from the community and the villages, and not everybody has the ability to be the voice of the people.

So there must be one voice representing a collective set of voices, and this is where I come in.

It's a relationship, it's not a one-sided arrangement. I want to be a representative who can help and not gain personally.

I believe that being elected would allow me to help the people in great magnitude. In this season, as a candidate I have realised that there are a lot of people who don't vote, who don't care to vote and they are not even paying attention to leadership or availing themselves of leadership in an area.

Their common response is that everybody's going to do the same thing, those who were there before and those who are promising to do better.

The bottom line for me, as I tell the people when I come in contact with them, as much as it is important they vote, because their vote is a consent and acceptance of me, my main concern is also that after election day, no matter what party you represent, no matter what office you hold, we must work together where the concerns of Bacolet/Mt St George stand.

I have been in contact with the young people who are not visionaries, they don't have a sight for the future and that is very sad. We are bashing them and isolating them, but we are not preparing them. We are putting things in place for them without asking them what they need and showing them how to be visionaries.

It has to start from there and from there we build and reform the whole package of delivery. We need to stop dealing with it in the current manner as it has borne no fruit. We need to start making plans and shaping the youth to be effective leaders for tomorrow.

Even the senior citizens are only considered on election day. I am a member of the church and work with a network of churches and we understand that the elderly need to feel needed, that their input is still important to the building and shaping of the community.

The change has to start somewhere. This is a new season. That is why I believe that I am a suitable candidate because I know who I am.

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