Saturday, February 24, 2018

The man who toppled Ashworth


not surprised: Sheldon Cunningham

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The man who toppled Ashworth Jack at the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) polls said yesterday that he achieved victory because he was able to win the trust of the people.

Sheldon Cunningham, the People's National Movement (PNM) member who scored a major goal by unseating Jack from the Mason Hall/Providence/Moriah electoral district which he held for 16 years, said he knew he was going to win.

"I wasn't really surprised because I think we have done the major things in terms of meeting the community and talking to the people one on one," Cunningham said in an interview with the Express yesterday at the PNM's Mason Hall office in Tobago.

During the campaign, Jack, political leader of the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP), said that he had financially helped Cunningham with a number of projects in the community and he claimed further that he (Cunningham) had told him he was approached by the PNM to run against him but he could not do so.

Cunningham said yesterday "out of manners" he did visit Jack to inform him that the PNM had asked him to contest the election against him.

"His words to me was 'the decision is yours'," said Cunningham, who explained that all non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and organisations were approached to assist the community and he did not ever go begging Jack for any finances.

He added that he had also discussed his political future with leader of The Platform of Truth (TPT), Hochoy Charles.

"I went to see Mr Charles on Divali day and he said he did not believe me. He had me on his slate to run for him," said Cunningham.

"In terms of the election, I think we did what we had to do and I think the weak point in (Jack's) election was having the Prime Minister campaign and I think she was too much involved in it. The people of this electoral district made a decision on who they can trust and who they want to serve them, that's the bottom line," said Cunningham.

He said from his interaction with the people in the electoral district, they were not happy with Jack's representation.

"Over the years people are not satisfied with it at all, they were uncomfortable, you only seeing that representative only when is time for election which is something that is not supposed to happen and I will take a page from his (Jack) book and learn from that and ensure that I serve the people and give them much more," said Cunningham.

The first thing he intends to do is meet with the various communities and gather from them ideas and advice on what their needs are.

Cunningham is a local case manager at the Tobago Health promotion clinic.

Cunningham said he was involved in politics before with Charles under the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) where he worked in the party groups.

This election under a PNM card was his first major political feat.