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UNC, PNM supporters share street
Although there was evidence of racial and political unity in Belmont East yesterday after the opposing candidates in tomorrow’s by-election shook hands gracefully as their motorcades sailed past each other without incident, they both agreed change was needed in order for the community and its residents to progress.
Their goals to improve the area also closely mirrored each other’s as they pledged to repair roads, clean clogged waterways, introduce a reliable water supply and implement a consistent schedule for garbage collection.
Surrounded by a small crowd of no less than 50 people, which included Opposition Senator Whip Wade Mark, United National Congress (UNC) candidate Lianna Babb-Gonzales said she was sensing victory.
Minutes before taking her post at the head of the UNC motorcade as it moved along Belmont Circular Road in a final push ahead of tomorrow by-election, Babb-Gonzales said, “This is the exciting part of it, as we have put in all the hard work, met the residents flesh-to-flesh and we are ready to go. We know victory is right at the door.”
Hesitant about making promises, Babb-Gonzales said she could only issue an assurance to “try my best to efficiently make things right in the essence of improving the infrastructural matters that have been highlighted by the residents.”
She added, “I am committed to helping persons get jobs and helping them in various aspects of sports, and also to have a place for the kids to engage in sports and do activities to further themselves in the future.”
Babb-Gonzales is hoping to secure more votes than the UNC candidate who contested the 2016 Local Government election.
Former Belmont East councillor, People’s National Movement (PNM) Darryl Rajpaul, won the seat back then after capturing 724 votes out of the 3,237 persons registered.
At the time, the UNC was only able to secure 49 votes. The seat was left vacant following Rajpaul’s passing last November.
As the supporters of each candidate (PNM and UNC held simultaneous motorcades in the constituency) mingled with each other at Piggott’s Corner yesterday, creating a sea of red and yellow, they engaged in the spirit of piccong and revelry as they waved party flags and held aloft pictures of each candidate as they danced in the streets.
Asked how she intended to tackle crime in the area, Babb-Gonzales, who lives along Belmont Circular Road and is a community favourite who operates a boxing gym and a kindergarten, said people had unfairly labelled Belmont as a gang and drug-infested area.
Saying the crime issue was affecting the entire country, she admitted constituents were fed-up of waiting on the authorities to effect positive change.
“Even though things have happened in the past, the people are loving and good and are willing to move forward with the assistance of the Government,” she said.
She admitted she was reluctant to serve initially after being told repeatedly that Belmont East was a PNM stronghold, but laughed as she said, “When God is steering the wheel and me just doing what I am accustomed to doing, having a school and people entrusting their children to me, I believe that is why they can entrust themselves to me as a community.”
Babb-Gonzales will round off her campaign with an interfaith service today.
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