The nation goes to the polls today in this country’s second Local Government Elections since 1994 and the Guyana Elections Commission yesterday sounded its readiness.
“We were at work, some of us today [Sunday], and we were told that all the ends are spoken for and there are no problems…everything is safe as ‘go’ and GECOM is prepared for tomorrow.” Commissioner of GECOM, retired Justice James Patterson told Stabroek News last evening.
Checks at some polling stations in the Capital showed that signage, voters lists and directions for voting were pasted as well as voting areas arranged.
GECOM’s Public Relations Officer Yolanda Ward had last month stated that systems and processes were in place. She informed that elections materials such as ink and ballot paper had been secured. Ward had said that materials for all the polling stations were being sourced and assured that they would be available “long before” elections day.
Some concerns had been expressed about the preparedness of GECOM given that on Nomination Day on September 21, a number of returning officers were not aware of their functions and did not properly advise a number of candidates and nominators of candidates on their rights.
A total of 573,923 voters are registered to vote in today’s election which is set to be run in 80 Local Authority Areas, including 10 municipalities.
Key areas to watch will be where the APNU and AFC faceoff against each other. The AFC is contesting elections on its own after it failed to reach a local government accord with APNU. The two groups contested the historic 2016 local government elections as a coalition but not this time.
A number of independents and new faces for both sides are also vying to be their communities’ respective LGE representatives.
Seeking to regain a seat on the Georgetown municipality is city mayor Patricia Chase-Green, who will once again be representing A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) on Constituency 12 – Tucville-North Ruimveldt constituency. Chase-Green will be coming up against public servant Brian David Nobrega of the Alliance For Change (AFC) and sales representative Maxine Donetta Padmore of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C).
For Constituency 4 – Lamaha Gardens, Newtown Campbellville, Section K Campbellville and Bel Air Park, the incumbent Alfred Mentore of APNU is being challenged by businesswoman Renata Chuck-A-Sang of the AFC and the PPP/C’s Patrick Neville De Santos, a miner.
Vying for Constituency 3 – Bel Air Gardens, Bel Air Springs, Prashad Nagar, Blygezight, North East Campbellville and North West Campbellville are author Astell Collins of APNU, psychologist Patricia Helwig of the AFC, and architect Dimitri Karmal Ali of the PPP/C.
In other towns, the current mayor of Mabaruma, Henry Smith and Gifford Marshall, who represented APNU at the last elections are now PR candidates and so too are PPP/C mayors Vijay Kumar Ramoo of Rose Hall town and Krishnand Jaichand of Corriverton. The incumbent for Anna Regina municipality Rabindranauth Mohan of the PPP/C will not seek reelection.
Winifred Rebecca Heywood, the incumbent for the New Amsterdam municipality and representing APNU will be coming up against Vaughn Trapp of the AFC, and Phillip Rose of the PPP/C for the Constituency 3 seat in New Amsterdam.
Current mayor of Linden, Waneka Odetta Arrindell of APNU is seeking reelection through both the PR and constituency lists for Linden. She will come up against Joylyn Astorine Antigua of the AFC and Sherry Cassandra Fyee James of the PPP for Constituency 5.
The incumbent for Lethem municipality Kerry Anthony Jarvis representing APNU will compete with Jason Anthony Wilson of the PPP for the Constituency 5 seat.
For the new town of Mahdia, the APNU, AFC and the PPP/C will be vying to control the seats up for grabs. APNU is contesting three of the constituency seats in Mahdia and the AFC, four. The PPP/C will contest only the PR seats.
Among the NDCs to watch is the Bloomfield/Whim NDC the hometown of Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo who is one of the executives of the AFC. Controversy erupted following the submission of its lists on September 21 when a number of nominators claimed they were either duped into signing as backers or were fraudulently used as backers by the AFC.