From left: PNM: Handel Beckles, TOP: Shelly Ann Rollocks-Hackett, TPT: Haynes Cowie Clarke

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Bethel/Mt Irvine

Candidate profiles:

By Anna Ramdass

People's National Movement (PNM) member Whitney Alfred was the representative for the electoral district of Bethel/Mt Irvine for the past four years.

Alfred served as the Secretary for Youth Affairs and Sport in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA). On January 21 he will not be contesting the THA election but has made way for Handel Beckles.

The Express spoke to Beckles and candidates from the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) and The Platform of Truth (TPT) who will be heading to the polls to win the votes of some 4,059 people who are registered to vote in the electoral district according to the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) supplemental voter list.

A total of 36 candidates from the three political parties will be competing at the polls to win the right to control the THA for the next four- year term.

PNM candidate: Handel Beckles, 41, evangelist, nursing assistant, business owner.

Why should you be elected?

I intend to complete some of the work started by Mr Alfred. When we are finished with those, we have a couple projects that the young people are interested in to bring on stream.

They are asking for a community centre from Sou Sou lands, a play area, and a covered sporting ground area so games would not be washed out.

We're looking at agriculture...I'd like to see an agricultural programme where we are able to grow our own food. Tobago used to be a food basket for a long time. I remember as a young boy my grand-mother used to take fruits to Trinidad.

We need to build the agricultural sector and plant more to sustain ourselves.

We have projects that involve tourism. There are a couple of beaches that are not lit, that do not have any bins or bathroom facilities.

There are educational programmes that we will expand, ensuring the youths are trained in some trade.

I also want to see the development of small businesses and boost the business sector. Quite a few young men are asking for assistance.

We have some roads that need attention. Senior citizens have asked that we mark the roads for easier access.

I am a people person. I am one of those hard-working community men. I am a family man. I take care of my community and consider it like my own family—my own children and grandchildren, I plan to represent the people and not just come with pie-in-the-sky ideas.

I am a lover of music and when I go to sleep at night, I am one of those who want to do what pleases Him (God).

TOP candidate: Shelly Ann Rollocks-Hackett, 40s, school principal

Why should you be elected?

Sherry-Anne Rollocks-Hackett is a family-oriented person. I am a very simple person, down to earth, strong- willed, confident and I pride myself in high standards and excellence. I am an educator, an administrator and a teacher trainer. I am also a go-getter, I make things happen. I detest mediocrity. For me, if a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing to the best of my ability. I am also very spiritual and I draw my strength from God first and foremost and then from the members of my family.

I grew up in a home where the ideologies of Tobago's self-government, equal status in our twin-island state were frequently debated. Moreover, the Honourable ANR Robinson owned a piece of property close to where I grew up along the Arnos Vale Road in Plymouth. As a little girl, I always noticed him as he drove by until I soon started to get him to notice me, by gleeful shouts of ' Robinson, Robinson' whenever he passed by.

My vision is to see the district develop in a way where the needs of all residents for homes, sustainable jobs, improved infrastructure, safer communities, and all other critical services are met in a way that would bring them great satisfaction and joy.

I also have a vision specific to the Bethel area of Bethlehem, Egypt, of Big Stick Gully, Middle Ridge, Hopeton to name a few of the streets. That vision is to eradicate the negative perception that some people have of the village by empowering the people through education and sustainable jobs.

Initiatives for the electoral district:

• The creation of a system of community governance that would ensure the participation of all members of the area in the provision of critical services.

• The construction of a mini stadium and mall at Montgomery Recreational Grounds.

• Housing—meeting the needs of the residence for housing and for the expansion of the district.

• The provision of training opportunities within the community to develop the human capital and skills bank of all able-bodied men and women in the area.

• The development of a golf academy

• Security: The Security Advancement Programme. This is intended to make the communities safer. This would involve the erection of several CCTV cameras in areas prone to high incidents of crime. The development of a children's play park in the SouSou Land Area. Construction of a jetty for the fishermen

• To work harmoniously, through consultation, with the area's business sector to arrive at workable solutions to improve their overall viability.

• The development of agriculture. Providing land to the young men and women interested in farming, the rearing of animals, etc.

• The expansion and refurbishment of the community centre.

TPT candidate: Haynes Cowie Clarke, 57, fishery liaison officer

Why should you be elected?

I should be elected because I understand the needs of my community. I was born in the area, I grew up there and I know that the needs are not physical needs but more institutional strengthening.

We need to look after our young women especially those unmarried women who have kids and who have to struggle between jobs.

Also, there are a number of golfers in the area, close to Mt Irvine who cannot afford training in the golfing industry...many youths who we have to take care of.

Our fishermen, right now are at the mercy of the multinational companies. We have allowed our fishermen to negotiate on their own and that is like throwing them to the sharks. As an assemblyman I would ensure that qualified persons negotiate on their behalf so they are properly compensated...drilling has affected their livelihood.

Our local contractors need assistance. We have too many sub-contractors. Most of our contractors are qualified but our institutions are not empowering them and giving them the larger projects. We need to modify that approach, let them handle the projects, guide them and lift their status.

We have a number of preschoolers whose parents have to leave their jobs and go and pick them up and run back to work. That is affecting productivity. One of my personal suggestions is that we use a mini-bus specially designed for the preschoolers, pick them up and drop them at their homes or parents' location and this will save time and ensure more productivity at the work place.

Senior citizens must be constantly taken care of...when I get old I want to be treated right and so we must look after our elderly.

I am a man of honesty. I am a Christian. I believe in principles, in integrity. I live a clean life, a moral life and I would like to see my community grow up.

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