The son of former University of the West Indies principal Professor Clement Sankat was arrested and charged with attempting to steal a plane at a Florida airport yesterday morning.
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‘I understand the needs of my community’
Today we conclude our series, Take 5, highlighting the six candidates contesting the by-election for Barataria and Belmont East electoral districts. On Monday, voters will head to the polls to elect one of three candidates seeking election for each district. Three political parties offered candidates -the incumbent People’s National Movement (PNM), the Opposition United National Congress (UNC) and the Progressive Empowerment Party (PEP). The series began in the Sunday Guardian.
Tell us a bit about your background?
I grew up in Barataria. I am fourth generation ‘Baratarian,’ as my great-grandmother and father have all lived in Barataria. We have actually never moved from the street my great-grandparents first settled on when they came to Barataria. I went to Holy Name Convent, Port-of-Spain and then to University in Florida after which I returned and started my career as a Health Safety and Environment professional in the oil and gas industry.
I am currently pursuing my Masters in Science in Occupational and Environmental Safety and Health and I am currently employed as a health and safety officer. I am an active member of my community being involved in community groups such as the Barataria Action Group and the Barataria Police Station Council — an organisation I was introduced to by our deceased councillor Pernell Bruno. I also have a relationship with some of the youth within the community as I was the youth mobilisation officer for the past three elections.
Why politics? Was it always an area of interest?
I was always heavily involved in my community in various aspects. My involvement started in my church community where, as a catechist, I interacted with a lot of young children and their parents, this led me to become a member of the Barataria Action Group which catered for the wider community. Participating in community development courses in Barataria and working closely with the late councillor also impacted on my decision to offer myself as a candidate as I began to understand not only my community but the needs, concerns and issues that we faced. I was also a youth speaker for the PNM so I grew up being deeply involved in politics and elections as well. As a result of my involvement, I offered myself as a candidate as I wanted to continue to serve the residents of the Barataria community in an even more meaningful way.
Recycled politicians. Broken promises. Corruption. These three seem to be the order of the day in T&T politics. Tell us why give PNM another chance?
I would not consider it giving the PNM another chance in the LGE by-elections for Barataria because as a result of the hard work and the legacy left by Mr Bruno, the people of Barataria know what it is to have proper representation by a local government representative. We know what it is to have an accessible, committed and efficient councillor.
A vote for the PNM in Barataria won’t be considered giving another chance but would be considered securing and solidifying the future for Barataria. The issue of recycled politicians is definitely not the order of the day with the PNM as both of the candidates for this by-election, Ms Nicole Young and myself are fresh, young, new faces in this field.
What do you plan to do for the people of Barataria should you be triumphant in LGE elections? What is the prominent need?
I have an intimate knowledge of the issues and concerns of the residents, as such my plans for Barataria include a job fair. In Barataria we have an increasing number of businesses and we also have under-employment among the youth. What we want to do is have a job fair where we target specifically the businesses within our area to create an opportunity for our under-employed. Additionally, I am currently developing a database of the businesses in our community and their openings as well as a database of people looking for employment and their qualifications. I intend on engaging with these businesses to facilitate contacts between them and the under-employed youth within our community.
As a resident of Barataria, I am aware of the issues of safety in the country, though Barataria has proven to be a safe community. I intend to continue working and meeting with the Barataria Police Station Council, as well as meet with other organisations within our community to develop solutions for our safety concerns. One of my plans would be to initiate neighbourhood groups within each of the 17 polling divisions in our district, as well as work on ensuring all areas are well lit.
I also understand and identify with the issues of traffic within our residential areas at peak times, therefore, I intend to work together with the Ministry of Works to address this major issue. This will involve the coming together of various agencies to prepare a comprehensive plan which would involve alternative routes and determining a solution which would ensure accessibility and comfort of the residents.
In terms of a prominent need, our focus on drainage and insect vector control will continue to be addressed. With the incessant rain earlier this month and the flooding of some areas in Barataria we continue to work with the San Juan/Laventille Regional Corporation to continue the work of cleaning and clearing the waterways.
If you had the opportunity to become a minister, which ministry do you believe you would be better suited and why?
I do not yet have such high aspirations because I am highly interested in being involved on a local government level because I see it as a way to be intimately connected with the residents and their issues. I like the aspect of being a part of the community and effecting change and improvements from within my community rather than on a policy level. Besides, it is the Prime Minister who decides whom to appoint as members of his Cabinet. I would always be happy to serve in any capacity offered.
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