TOP: Theodil McPherson

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Black Rock/Whim/Spring Garden

By Anna Ramdass

In just one week the people of Tobago will be heading to the polls to choose the team they believe will serve their best interest.

Today, the Express looks at the electoral district of Black Rock/ Whim/Spring Garden, where the candidates of the People's National Movement (PNM), the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) and The Platform of Truth (TPT) share their vision for the future and why they should be elected to represent the people of this area. The seat is currently held by the PNM.

On January 21, some 36 candidates from the three political parties will be contesting the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election.

PNM candidate:

Claudia Groome-Duke, 64,

THA Secretary of Health and Social Services; recipient of the Hummingbird Medal (Silver) for Community Service (2001).

Why should you be re-elected?

We have been working assiduously for the last four years and we are all about developing a garden city in our district. We focused on developing the area as a tourist destination and I call it the greening of the economy because it is integrating the environment with socio-economic development of the people and human development so you have sustainable development.

In doing that, we have started a number of programmes, in terms of infrastructural development, the development of our roads—paving most of the roads in the district.

In Black Rock, we have a recreation ground for football, cricket and other sporting activities. We have changing room facilities. It's an area for young people to meet.

We have developed a number of sporting programmes in the community centres and assisted sporting leagues. My focus has been on the development of the young people and senior citizens, of course the adults in terms of employment and working for sustainable development.

We have supported the Katzenjammers Steel Orchestra. It has been involved in pan for over 60 years—winning different events, including Panorama in terms of the medium bands.

I support the development of our young people. There are over 100 young people who are part of that steelband. The THA was able to construct a Pan Institute where they teach people to play the pan, and it is also a tourist attraction.

We are also developing training programmes for the people in the community so they can better their lives.

In terms of land, there's the development of the Courland Estate to allow the expansion of Black Rock, the THA will be giving out land in this area. We also have the Courland Heritage Park, which displays artefacts and the rich history of Tobago.

We built a swimming pool with the YMCA and that caters to most of the children on the island. We are surrounded by water and I believe everyone should learn how to swim. People from all over Tobago utilise this swimming pool.

We are completing a skills centre and sporting complex at Whim, Back Hill Village. We are looking at a marina for the Courland area to provide more employment opportunities and to build the tourism plant on the island.

We have also developed a recreation ground at Mary's Hill and Whim. There's a library and youth development centre at Union; also a senior citizen and youth activity centre at Mary's Hill.

Throughout the electoral district we have developed community centres for our youth and senior citizens.

My vision for the future is creating an environment and greening the economy for prosperity and sustainable development and that has to do, as I said, in terms of providing more education and training at all levels so that our people can access sustainable employment. They are employed but people want betterment and we are working to assist in proving improved quality of life.

We intend to continue with the programme of works that will bring new initiatives to take the people forward.

TPT candidate:

Curtis Douglas, 40,

businessman/fisherman.

Why should you be elected?

I should be elected because there is nobody more suitable than me to represent the people. I started the drive where there is a fishermen association for the benefit of the people of Plymoth and Black Rock.

We have a vision for the future of Tobago and the youths of Tobago because we want to start to empower the villages and the communities in so many ways that we must invest in the young people.

For the longest while, the young people have been neglected. There is so much work do to. When you look around the world, countries are investing in the youth and I think we should do the same.

In Black Rock, Whim and Spring Garden, it seems that time has stopped for the people in these communities. I think with our vision, we have to fight for the 200 miles where we can develop the people from the resources. We have to train our youths in the areas where the jobs will be coming and which no one is telling them about.

All these ministers and political parties know about this and no one is telling this to the youth. I will tell them the truth and show them the way.

There are two oil companies right now doing work and nobody from Black Rock or Whim is employed in this sector. The jobs are going to come and we have to prepare them.

Under our administration, that is going to stop. We will give the youth the opportunity, just like the youths around the world, to move forward. When you leave school, you will be able to go to the centre to get training, to become marketable.

I don't understand what is going on. I am going to let them know what is at stake. I intend to change the lives of these people—not just in Black Rock, but throughout Tobago.

I am a very easy person to talk to, I listen a lot because I believe if you don't listen to the people you won't know what the problems are. I play football and I'm well-known in Tobago as "Bobby".

I am very productive and I like to see people's lives improve because you can come from humble beginnings and I believe the sky is the limit.

The only way I see someone better to represent the people is probably God. It is in my best interest and in their best interest that they vote for us on January 21.

TOP candidate:

Theodil McPherson, 48,

training manager at

the Magdalena Grand

Beach Resort.

Why should you be elected?

I have represented the people in my community for many years in the area of sport and youth development. I am of the opinion that from a governmental level I can do much more, hence the reason I have given myself to further represent the people of this district.

I am a very strategic person and can assist by using strategy in the development of my district. I have a lot of knowledge of the area, the concerns of the people who reside in the area. I have also seen the lack of representation given to the people of my district and the way the district was neglected. I am confident that I can turn around this level of misrepresentation, involve the people in my district and encourage them to work with me to ensure a better future for the district. I love people and love to help people, and I feel accomplished when I am able to give assistance to people. I believe that assisting persons throughout life is one of the biggest achievements anyone can attain in life, so I humbly give myself to the people of my community, to the people of Tobago and to the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

My vision for the future is to develop my constituency into a modern and model constituency.

This will be done by village expansion through land distribution; building theme parks; creating opportunities in these areas whereby enhancing the Tobago tourism product; investing heavily in agriculture, especially in homestead farming where persons can live on their farms and make them a family business; introducing an area for research and development by building labs and encouraging the development of new products and innovation; having strong research in the fishing industry, whereby fish farms and crab farms can be developed; giving strong consideration to space exploration; researching issues for renewable energy; bridging the gap between our youths and our senior citizens by having our well-learned senior citizens assisting in teaching our culture and customs to our youths in our early childhood centres.

This will return our youths and cause them to be in touch with Tobago's culture and customs by learning to make things like sugar cake, lime balls, nut cake, how to be polite, kind and mannerly, thereby returning Tobago to the hospitable society it was. This will help to reduce crime in the country and allow our youths and senior citizens to live in the same space.

These programmes will ensure sustainable jobs for persons in the constituency and for Tobagonians as a whole.

It will eliminate the dependence syndrome and create meaningful employment. It will reverse the new trend that is overtaking Tobago—that of anti-social behaviour—and return Tobago to the society of being kind and hospitable. We will be able to compete with many other developing countries in the areas of new innovations and products.

The Tobago Organisation of the People is the most forward-thinking political organisation it has in Tobago. Their programme for Tobago's development is far advanced to another political organisation. It is people-orientated, future-driven and development- centred. Its philosophy is that of developing the human capacity, and this will in turn develop the country. Upon understanding the TOP's drive, it was an easy choice to make on joining this organisation and becoming a candidate for the upcoming THA election.

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