Outgoing Sangre Grande chairman: Outspokenness can get you deselected

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

FILE PHOTO: Sangre Grande Regional Corporation Chairman Anil Juteram walks through floodwaters on Neeraanjan Street, Sangre Grande, as he checks on affected residents on November 9, 2022. –

SANGRE Grande Regional Corporation outgoing chairman Anil Juteram on Friday told new councillors their outspokenness could get them deselected from standing again but said they should still speak out if required. He was addressing the swearing-in ceremony for the winners of the August 14 local government elections which saw the UNC gain a seat from the PNM, for a final tally of UNC six seats and PNM two seats.

Juteram said councillor had been elected by his/her burgesses, and each must stand up for the people that put them here.

“Demand your fair share of the pie. You didn’t come here to be a rubber stamp or to watch your area be neglected while other areas are furnished.”

He urged councillors not to compromise in their representation.

“There might be times – and I’m speaking from experience – when you have to stand for the correct thing. It may compromise you being selected again next term to go up for a seat.” Juteram said selection to contest a seat was not the big picture.

“Do not do anything or take any external advice to hurt any staff in this corporation. These are public servants and it’s very easy for people to make accusations against these persons – to write to minister, to write to permanent secretary – and these people with 32, 33 years of service could be suspended without even a gratuity.

“Be very careful and mature in your decisions, as to outside influences which want to have things their way for political expediency. I’m not talking about any particular organisation but I’m speaking across the board.” He said politicians come and go but at the end of the day the buck stops with the council’s CEO.

Juteram urged councillors to not break the unity of the council. He pointed out the horseshoe shape of the councillors’ table in the council meeting room to suggest a co-operative approach, adding that the council premises was “a sacred space.”

He advised councillors not to utter any racial slurs but to strive for equality for all people. Urging good sense prevail in the distribution of council resources across the region, he downplayed party loyalties and said councillors must “see people”, “Leave the balisier and rising sun downstairs.”

Juteram urged councillors to protect their innocence. “Outside of here is a jungle. People will do anything to defame you.”