Autly Granthume: Lengua/Indian Walk by-election a 2nd chance for me

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

PNM candidate Autly Granthume, centre, is welcomed with a party of flag-flying supporters, tassa and African drummers as well as Local Government Minister Faris Al-Rawi, second from left, and Trade Minister Paula Gopee Scoon, third from left, as he filed his nomination papers at the Princes Town East Secondary School on May 24. – Photo by Yvonne Webb

CONTESTING the Lengua/Indian Walk seat for the PNM a second time is Autly Granthume, who believes this election is his to win.

Granthume contested the seat in the August 2023 local government election against the UNC’s Nicole Gopaul which ultimately ended in a tie and a return to the polls.

Initial counts put Granthume on top with 1,430 votes compared to Gopaul’s 1,425. But two recounts left each candidate with 1,428 votes. The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) rejected a special ballot which the UNC said was a vote for Gopaul, which would have broken the deadlock. The UNC’s case was dismissed in court and a fresh election called.

Grathume believes this second battle for the district is a chance for him to improve himself.

“We would have had another opportunity to come out better and to come out stronger and to do more than we have done before. Probably we could have done better and we didn’t, so it’s another opportunity…

“God knows the intent of my heart to meet the needs of the people at another level, at a higher level, and to be able to extend my borders. So I’ve committed myself to go again.”

If successful, Granthume would join a council dominated by the UNC. While he anticipates there may be challenges at first, the pastor of 27 years believes God is on his side.

“I believe I would be able to make it through. It might take some time for me to get through. With a lot of prayer and persistency…but with the other party and some of the setbacks I may have and taking a long period to get through with some things, I’m not going to give up. I’m not going to retire, because I know the Lord is my helper and God is a god of truth, he’s a god of justice, he’s a god of righteousness, love and mercy.”

If successful at the polls, he wants to focus his attention on the youth of the district, particularly in the areas of sport and education. He envisions homework centres across communities, staffed by volunteers and assisted by the ministries of Education and Social Development and Family Services.

“Right now I realise many people need help with their children and to further their education…There are numerous children that can do better and they need to advance themselves. (But) one, they don’t have the financial backing from the parents or guardians, and two, they don’t have the right people around them to help them and push them.”

Granthume said developing sporting activities for the youth would help keep them engaged and keep them from going down the wrong path in life.

“Probably some of them could become good local and international cricketers and footballers and basketballers.”

He said he chose to run on a PNM ticket because his family has been strong supporters of the party for generations, describing it as a “party of my ancestors.”

This year’s election, however, sees the addition of an Independent candidate, Peterson Morales. Granthume said he is not worried about this new dynamic because Morales does not live in the Lengua/Indian Walk district.

“The gentleman is not in touch with the community whatsoever. Secondly, he lives outside the community and he would have been a serviceman in the heart of Princes Town for a couple years, but that has passed and gone. That’s like a total stranger coming into Lengua/Indian Walk now, and I doubt very much he would make any inroads whatsoever.”