Independent Valencia West candidate: Vote for change

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Independent candidate for Valencia West Gwendolyn Charles –

Independent candidate for Valencia West Gwendolyn Charles said she is running for councillor in the area because she feels neither of the political parties have the community’s best interest at heart.

The business owner said for the past 12 years, both parties have been present in the community but nothing was done. She said the candidates chosen by the major political parties were not picked for the purpose of serving the community.

“As an independent, I believe you should put parties aside for local government and choose a candidate who is about working in the community, and their concern is more about taking over the corporation, because with this election, there will be more money coming into the corporation through taxes, so their main focus now is about getting control of the corporation and not about building the community. I’ve even seen ministers walking with candidates and we leave that for general elections.”

Charles said so far she had been seeing positive results in her campaigning.

“People are just despondent, they don’t want to vote. Politics in this area is nasty, everyone is fighting down each other, and now as an independent I have to work a lot harder to convince people to come out and vote because your vote counts, your vote matters, your vote will make a difference in terms of getting what you want.”

Charles said she had gone up for screening for the PNM in 2018 and 2023 but was not accepted.

“This year they took my paperwork but put someone else up, which I thought was disrespectful because they didn’t say anything to me, and I would have supported who they put up. I realised that both the UNC and the PNM were in my area, and I think what we deserve in Valencia is someone better.”

Charles said there are four major issues which are concerning her about the area which she wished to work on when she was elected.

“I want to see growth in the community. The government knows we have grown because they split us into Valencia East and Valencia West but there has been no infrastructural growth. We have a large health centre that takes in a certain amount of people and then the rest are turned back, so I would advocate for a larger health centre once elected.

“I would also lobby for another primary school. We have three primary schools in the area, one has ten children, and another took 30, and the rest have to go to an external early childhood care and education centre, and that is affecting the parents’ pockets. So if we have another primary school, it could take the rest of the children.”

She said she would also want a fire station to be established in the community, as a child had died in a fire in the community. She said she had been told that these three issues did not fall under councillors, but she knew they fell under the Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government.

Charles said the last issue she would be working on would be that of community togetherness.

“We used to have activities in our communities, small goal football, basketball, and they all stopped. I believe as a councillor you should build on these things and improve it for the youth, even for the elderly, because we used to have an exercise programme in the health centres, and all these things stopped. I want to give the youths a choice because if there’s no opportunity for them to occupy themselves, they won’t have a choice and they’ll go on the block.

“This is my home at the end of the day and I want to put my home in an order. Yes the drains and roads are also important, and because they were neglected for the last 12 years there’s a lot of work to be done. We will see to these things, the roads and the lights and the drainage, and see about the infrastructural development. These are the things I will bring back to the community of Valencia.”

Charles said she chose the clock as her symbol because “now is the time for change and now is the time to act on the change. It’s only election time we have to make a difference.”