By Dhanash Ramroop and David Papannah
The Peoples’ Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C), A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) are expected to battle for seats on the Bartica Town Council at the upcoming Local Government Elections (LGE), as no independent groups are contesting.
Nomination Day, last Friday, saw the PPP/C and APNU submit their lists of candidates in all nine of the town’s constituencies, while the AFC submitted a list for eight.
The constituencies in the town are: Bartica East (North), Bartica East (South), Bartica East Central, Bartica West Central (North), Bartica West Central (South), Bartica (West), Tumering – Mongrippo (West), Tumering – Mongrippo (East) and Koetaru – Big Barabara.
For the APNU, Arita Embleton, Keith Blair, Estiva Lake, Alvern McKenzie, Kadeem Chandler, Anthony Sunich, Hazel Allicock and Mark Ambrose were nominated as the First Past the Post (FPTP) candidates to represent their respective constituencies.
The APNU’s Proportional Representation (PR) list features 22 nominees, with Mayor of the Town, Gifford Marshall, once again contesting.
Rhonda Allen, Luanna Ambrose, Dwight Beaton, John Campbell, Eon Ferrier, Elizabeth Fraser-Moonsammy, Shevon Garraway, Holbert Knights, Shawn Hopkinson, Lyndon Jones, Vashti Layne, Ivor Melville, Irene Perrerira Da Silva, Hairlall Ramjag, Carlton Roach, June Shurland, Desmond Stoby, Anthony Sunich, Ronaldo Stutton, Carmel Williams and Kenneth Williams are the others on the list.
For the PPP/C, the nominees submitted for the respective constituencies are: Niranjan Rupnarine, Anthony Murry, Erwin Ward, Devina Persaud, Caitlin Pollard, Errol Murry, Joseph Barrat, Sookdeo Singh and Shella John. Seven of them are new candidates.
Stephen Belle, Edward Skeete, Mahadai Lall, James Clementon, Roland Persaud, Martin Murray, Jasmattie Moungla, Joanne Martindale-Benjamin, Ewrin Ward, Narisa Rahama-Sheriff, Marissa Sue, Viola Haynes, Gail Persaud, George Porter, Rohita Jabar, Sonia Simmons, Michael Singh, Thomas John, Maureen Couchman-Dasilva, Viola Cozier and Gwendolyn Jeffrey were on the PR list for the PPP/C.
While the AFC’s list of nominees was not made available, a representative of the party confirmed that they would be contesting in eight of the nine areas and also have 20 persons listed on the PR list, including Deputy Mayor Kamal Persaud.
The 2016 LGE had seen the emergence of the Bartica Independent Green Alliance (BIGA) voluntary group, which sought to challenge the dominance of the two major parties. Its Chairman, Knights, is now on the APNU list.
Speaking to this newspaper on Friday, Mayor Marshall said he wanted to thank the people of Bartica for allowing him to serve over the last two years, which he called a great experience.
“I know all of us would’ve contributed to the changes we saw in Bartica. There were some challenges and of course accomplishments,” he said.
Marshall said during his time as the Mayor, the need for intense capacity building of the people of Bartica and improvement in infrastructure was identified. “We need to continue building capacity of the people to know what being a town is and what their responsibilities are. Also, there are some challenges in terms of the economy and infrastructural development. We need to build the capacity of our people because these issues can negatively impact our community,” he added.
Marshall also explained that the new council will have to be proactive in finding new ways of raising revenues and he suggested that the Town Council should strive to move towards more autonomy and should rely less on government help.
“The new council will definitely have to find ways for raising revenues. Without revenues we cannot do much. Our heavy dependency on government has to be reduced and they will be tasked with creating additional avenues for additional revenues. While we are comfortable where we are right now, being able to pay salaries and operate properly, we cannot continue to operate a municipality on limited funds because there are other important aspects such as drains and roads. As it stands right now, the Municipality does not have the financial capacity to take care of the roads and bridges and we believe that with the people understanding their rules and responsibilities we can achieve that objective,” Marshall said, while noting that once given the opportunity by his team, he is ready to face the challenge of taking up the mayorship again.
Devina Persaud, from the PPP/C, who was the youngest candidate during the last LGE, is also running again for her constituency – Bartica West (Central).
She said she has grown as an individual and is now “stronger and wiser” and she is confident that she can gain more support in her constituency.
“My constituency is the smallest, so my main focus will be the road maintenance and also proper drainage because when there is high tide some persons suffer losses due to the improper drainage,” she said.
Meanwhile, APNU and the PPP/C are also contesting head to head in five constituencies that comprise the Lethem township, while the AFC only submitted for three.
The constituencies are: Moco-Moco – Manari (Culvert City); Moco-Moco – Manari (Tabatinga) – Over the Creek; Moco-Moco – Manari (Lethem) – Tabatinga Bridge to Third Street; Moco-Moco – Manari (Lethem) Third Street to Windmill Road; and Moco-Moco – Manari (Lethem) Windmill Road to ‘T &M’ Restaurant (Takutu River).
For the APNU, Yolanda Moffet, George Nicholson, Wendy Rohler, Iliver D’Aguiar and Kerry Jarvis were nominated to contest in the respective constituencies, while Johnny Fredericks, Debra King, John Macadeo, Megan Thomas and Jason Wilson were nominated for the PPP/C.
For the AFC, only Ryan Alcides, Lilian Joseph Cumberbatch and Ahrinds Landry were nominated for constituencies one, three and four, respectively.
In Mabaruma, the nomination process saw glitches on Friday as the parties quarrelled over who should be given the opportunity to present their list of nominees first.
Regional Chairman Brentnol Ashley, who represented the PPP/C, told this newspaper that after the issue was sorted out, the lists were submitted.
He explained that his party will be contesting in the Matarkai and Mabaruma Local Authority Areas. In the Mabaruma municipality, he said that names were submitted for the constituency candidates in the six constituencies. The constituencies are Thomas Hill-Smith Creek, Mabaruma Settlement/ Barimanobo, Mabaruma Township-Mabaruma Compound Broomes Estate, Barabina-Koberimo Hill, Kumaka, Hosororo Hill.
While he did not disclose the number of persons on the PR list, Ashley said that their list of candidates is made up of both members of the party and civic members.
Cleveland December, who presented the APNU’s list of candidates to the Returning Officer Ganesh Seecharran at the Mabaruma Registration Office, also disclosed that his party will be contesting all six constituencies in both aspects of the hybrid electoral system.
According to December, they were able to present their list of candidates peacefully. He noted that some new names have been placed on their list and should they be elected to the council, constituents will see youthful representatives. The representatives, he said, are full of passion and have a vision for development.
Touching on what his party will be campaigning on in the region, December said that they will continue development of infrastructure in the community. He noted that within the last two years they have overseen a dramatic transformation within the township. December pointed out that should they be given the chance to return to council, they will continue to push for development.
The AFC is also contesting these Local Authority Areas.
In the newly-gazetted township of Mahdia, the process was conducted without a hitch. However, representatives of APNU were informed by Returning Officer Derwayne Marco at the closing of the nomination process that some signatures on the list were duplicated.
The town of Mahdia consists of four constituencies: Uewang/Mahdia Plateau West; Mahdia Plateau East; Potaro Road – Eagle Mountain; and Konawak Essequibo. This is the first LGE for the local authority area as the community was gazetted a town on August 9th of this year.
AFC representative Daniel Fraser explained that members of his team camped out of the GECOM’s office in the community from Thursday night and were the first group to present their list. The AFC will be contesting both segments of the hybrid system and all the constituencies.
Fraser explained that should members of his team be elected to the council, they will work to resolve land issues in the community. He noted that lands in the community are still state owned and he said that they will work to see residents becoming owners of transported land. They will work to build infrastructure, build recreation and sporting facilities and address drainage and irrigation issues, he further stressed.
APNU’s representative David Adams told Stabroek News on Friday that his party was the last to submit their list of candidates. He noted that it was during their submission that Marco discovered duplicated signatures on their list.
“The township is very small and it is the first time we are having such an election. What might have happened is that the parties approached the same people and they signalled their support and this is how we have the duplicated signatures,” said Adams. The contesting groups are required to rectify the issue and resubmit the names to GECOM, Adams added.
Apart from this, he noted that the process was done without any glitches. He indicated that his party will be contesting in three of the four constituencies.
“We have decided not to contest in constituency four because that is a mining area and a lot of families have a nomadic approach based on the discovery of gold… we just decided that we should not contest that community for this reason,” Adams explained.
He noted that his party will be using the developments in the township within the last three years under the coalition government as the base for their campaign.
A voluntary group, the Mahdia Concerned Citizen Group, is also contesting in the township.