Port of Spain mayor urges councillors to build relationships

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Newly sworn in councillors of the Port of Spain City Corporation with the outgoing Mayor Joel Martinez, centre, at a swearing-in ceremony at City Hall on Friday. – Jeff K. Mayers

Outgoing Port of Spain mayor Joel Martinez says the newly sworn-in councillors of the Port of Spain City Corporation are about to undertake a profound responsibility. He said they should build on the relationships they had made in communities in order to serve citizens.

He was speaking at the swearing-in ceremony at City Hall on Friday. He told the four new councillors they should seek advice from the other more-experienced councillors on how to represent the people. He said he knew the experienced councillors were ready to guide the newer ones.

“You will have to do your work with humility, you will have to understand the needs of your citizens, of which during your campaign you would have forged relationships and build on it so you can best serve them for the next couple of years. You are the torchbearers of progress and the embodiment of our city’s aspirations.

“Your journey ahead is not merely political duty but a sacred pact with the people you represent. In your hands rests the power to shape the destinies of neighbourhoods, to nurture growth, and to weave the tapestry of unity that defines our diverse communities. The role you assume is not one of mere governance but also of stewardship. You are entrusted with the solemn task of safeguarding the wellbeing and prosperity of our fellow citizens.”

Martinez reminded them that service was not only a duty, but a privilege.

“Service is an act of selflessness, of placing the collective interest above personal gain, it is an embodiment of sacrifice and dedication. As you embark on this journey, remember that your success will be measured not by the accolades you receive but by the lives you’ve touched, and the positive change you’ve enacted.

“Let your decisions be driven by the needs of the many rather than the desires of the few. Let your dedication to your duty be unwavering. Let your actions be a reflection of the hopes and dreams of those you serve. Let your service be a beacon of hope and a testament to your unwavering commitment.”

Port of Spain South MP Keith Scotland said the councillors could not expect a honeymoon period, but had to hit the ground running. He urged them to draw from the experience of those who came before them.

“You succeeded in a campaign of local government reform, which translates into better delivery of services. There is no honeymoon period, there is no period of gestation. The vision is to give you all a greater say in policy and decision-making ability in your respective areas.”

He said the corporation is exclusively a PNM-controlled corporation and the councillors should not take it for granted.

“With the mid-term blues, this is a massive feat. The responsibility is for you now to ensure efficiency and performance, and it lies solely on your shoulders. There are no external influences in the corporation. You fought together for six weeks, continue to fight together for four exciting years. The challenges will be many and diverse as you strive to improve the quality of life of the citizens of Port of Spain.”

Port-of-Spain North/St Ann’s West MP Stuart Young said the council had a good mix of experienced and young councillors. He urged the newer ones to listen to their colleagues and make the right decisions.

“Don’t let it pass you today how important it is today the task you’re about to take on. Don’t forget for a moment that you are elected members of the council and what comes with that is major responsibility. All of you worked hard to get into or get back into office, and in doing so, you would have had conversations with those you are going to serve and you asked them for their votes, so remember that they are the ones we are put here to serve.

“As elected members, people often forget their responsibilities but it hasn’t happened here in Port of Spain. The people of Port of Spain took the decision unanimously to give us another term of four years, where there is no other force sitting at the table making decisions for the city. The government, the PNM, are the ones, through you and our soon to be sworn-in aldermen, who must carry us forward for the next four years.”

He challenged the councillors to carry the city back to the heights it used to be over the next four years.

“Promises were made about reform. We spoke a lot about policy and what needs to be done. The PNM government will deliver upon those no matter what difficulties face us.”

Corporation CEO Annette Stapleton-Seaforth welcomed the councillors and wished them the best in serving their electoral districts, and by extension, the transient population of the city. She said the administrative staff looked forward to working with them.

The councillors:Nicole Young, Belmont EastMalouia Bourne, Belmont North and WestRaphael Bournes, Belmont SouthClint Baptiste, East Dry RiverAbena Hartley, Northern Port of SpainDennis Bristol, Southern Port of SpainEsther Sylvester, St Ann’s River CentralAlicia Gift, St Ann’s River NorthJenneil Frederick, St Ann’s River SouthJameel Bisnath, St James EastImran Khan, St James WestOwen St Rose, Woodbrook.