Current candidate for NY City Council should take counsel from former candidates

Dear Editor,

Concerning the matter of whether the Caribbean diaspora in New York can secure political representation, Mike Persaud’s unfortunate dismissal of the pioneering efforts of previous Guyanese-born candidates ‒ Trevor Rupnarain, Dr Taj Rajkumar, Dr Dhanpaul Narine, Attorney Albert Baldeo, Dr Robby Mahadeo ‒ is symptomatic of the myopic armchair mentality of West Indians living in the overseas diaspora (‘Guyanese-born candidate standing for NY City Council’ SN, August 23).

It costs time, money and sacrifice to subject one’s name and reputation to scrutiny in the treacherous reality of politics. Each of these candidates Mr Persaud diminished deserves the thanks and appreciation of even the meanest person, because they tried to change the status quo by moving Guyanese, West Indians and other immigrants in the US from second class citizens upwards. Dr Dhanpaul Narine and Dr Robby Mahadeo are excepted, because they split their votes 3 ways in the 2005 election by declaring their candidacies after Albert Baldeo had declared his, thereby ensuring that the incumbent, absentee Councilman Tom White was re-elected. Baldeo lost only because they siphoned votes unnecessarily from him, and the fact that they did not run again after that confirms the sad reality and crab mentality that they only ran to spoil their community’s best chances.

Instead, Richard David (the current Guyanese-born candidate for the NY City Council) should seek the endorsements of these candidates to coalesce and unify the Caribbean votes around him. Mr Persaud and others must also realize that one swallow does not make a summer. He and all the others must do much more than the isolated campaign task. They must do the work! Albert Baldeo was the first to launch professional and spirited campaigns, and spent a small fortune in securing a near victory in the larger State Senate elections in 2006, when his announced victory on NY 1 was rolled back to a narrow defeat of 500 votes in his groundbreaking fight against the then Chair of the Queens Republican Party. Ironically, Baldeo was targeted as “too independent and maverick” to fit into the Old Boys political club, and he was hounded out of office.

In contrast to the City Council election where candidates benefit from matching funds, Baldeo’s Senate and Assembly races were mostly self-financed. In a community where the diaspora are selfish and hardly give any meaningful contributions to their own, but support their duck curry festivals, material pursuits, lavish parties and Guyanese politics, where they do not have any stake, Baldeo’s election efforts were unprecedented and groundbreaking. To this day, the disapora regrets that 500 of them did not make the 5 minute gratuitous walk to the polls in 2006 to cast that vote for Baldeo which would have  given them a seat at the table of government and ensure that their voices and needs were met. Unlike all other groups, including Haiti, Ecuador and others, they still languish without a voice.

Richard David must take counsel from Baldeo, Rajkumar, Rupnarain and other former candidates who have institutional knowledge and experience of local politics and campaigns, and who still have a large following in New York.

Yours faithfully,

Chris Gounden

SE Queens Leadership Alliance

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