THROUGH their own actions they found themselves out of the Government.
But they are offering themselves today as candidates for selection to represent the ruling PNM in the House of Representatives, and both seem to have support within the constituencies they are seeking to represent.
Former ministers Robert Le Hunte and Marlene McDonald face the PNM screening committee today as nominees for the safe seats of La Brea and Port of Spain South, respectively.
“I am ready (for screening),” Le Hunte said yesterday.
He said the constituency executive would be holding a prayer vigil while his screening is going on in Port of Spain today.
‘All ah we is one family’
He said he has been in the party for over 31 years, held party positions throughout Trinidad and Tobago, and was the coordinator for D’Abadie/O’Meara and St Joseph and has been on the party’s Central Executive and General Council.
“I probably have the distinction of sitting on more executives in this party than anyone because I have moved around because of my job in Trinidad, and everywhere I have gone, I have been a member of the PNM,” he said.
Asked whether he felt his resignation would have changed how he is viewed by party members, Le Hunte said: “My resignation was in keeping with proper parliamentary procedure, and with the Westminster tradition, where if you have a principled position where you disagree, (resign) is what you do.”
He said his resignation as a minister was a totally different issue from his membership and support of the party.
“I have no disagreement with the party and I am still a staunch supporter of my political leader. I am a staunch supporter of the PNM. I left my job in Ghana as a bank executive because of my support for the Prime Minister, and I continue to support him as a person.
“But within any family, people could have different principled positions and what you do when you have a (different) principled position is that you step aside. But it doesn’t mean you have a different position on everything. My principled position was on something in public utilities,” he said, adding this happened around the world “regularly”.
Le Hunte said he was offering himself to be the representative of the people of La Brea, who “overwhelmingly support me”.
Le Hunte received the support of 85 per cent of the party groups and 90 per cent of the constituency executive.
He said he had an excellent working relationship with the past MP, Hedwidge Bereaux.
He said all the councillors in the area have pledged their support to him as well.
Le Hunte said he was going to the screening (feeling) very positive, based on all these relationships and on his track record.
“I don’t have a negative bone in my body with regard to this. I have a magnanimous leader, who knows the work I have done for the party, who is aware of the contribution I have made throughout the years, and who knows the type of hard-working person that I am. And the work I did as a Minister of Public Utilities in a difficult ministry, and in difficult circumstances, also stands for itself,” he said.
Le Hunte said he had been discussing with the La Brea executive some of the priorities for the constituency, such as infrastructure issues and how to improve the performance of the schools, particularly the primary schools in the constituency.
“Those are issues engaging my attention,” he said, adding the provision of sporting facilities was also important.
Marlene faces the music
Port of Spain South incumbent Marlene McDonald was fired and rehired three times, but maintains some support in the Port of Spain South area.
One of the occasions for her firing was because she demonstrated poor judgment in inviting Sea Lots resident Cedric “Burkie” Burke to President’s House for her swearing in.
The last occasion on which she was fired was because she was charged for corruption-related offences, for which she is still before the court.
The other Port of Spain South nominees are Olympic shot-putter Cleopatra Borel, president of Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee Brian Lewis and businessman and radio host Wendell Stephen (who is also the constituency chairman).
The other constituencies being screened today are Point Fortin, Diego Martin Central, Toco/Sangre Grande and Oropouche East.
In Diego Martin Central the nominees are Vice President of the Senate Nigel De Freitas, chairman of the Diego Martin Regional Corporation Symon de Nobriga and Kiran Seebaran.
Dhano Sookoo, Mervyn Dillon in Toco/Sangre Grande
Two big names are vying for the Toco/Sangre Grande seat.
They are Dhano Sookoo, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Agricultural Society and Mervyn Dillon, former West Indies cricketer and coach of the T&T cricket team.
The other nominees are incumbent Glenda Jennings-Smith, Lorraine Heath, Roger Munroe, David Guy and Courtney Francois.
In Point Fortin, there are five nominees.
Former assistant police commissioner Donald Denoon is the frontrunner, in terms of support from the constituency executive and party groups.
But the Mayor and Caribbean Airlines pilot Kennedy Richards as well as two councillors are also in the running.
Incumbent Edmund Dillon was screened last week.
One nominee, 35-year-old Kelvin George, has withdrawn and pledged his support to Denoon.
Foster Cummings was confirmed as the candidate for La Horquetta/Talparo.
Incumbent Nyan Gadsby-Dolly was selected for the St Ann’s East seat.
Yesterday, she said she was “humbled” to have been selected as the PNM’s standard bearer for this constituency.
“Thanks to all those that repose confidence in my leadership,” she said.
Incumbent Brig Ancil Antoine was selected as a candidate for D’Abadie/O’Meara.
Meanwhile in Oropouche West, 24-year-old Lea Aneela Ramoutar received the nod. Ramoutar is the education officer of the constituency, and is described by party sources as “very energetic”.
In Princes Town, 36-year-old Sharon Baboolal was chosen as the PNM candidate.
However, the Lopinot/Bon Air West constituency executive was told to go back and widen its search for candidates.
Mayaro was given the same instruction.
Thus far, the PNM has selected about 28 of its 41 candidates.