St Joseph: The Favourite Key Marginal

Spread the love
By Dr Neil Gosine

ST JOSEPH was founded in 1592 by Antonio de Berrio and is the oldest town in Trinidad and Tobago. Originally named San José de Oruña, it served as the capital of Spanish Trinidad between 1592 and 1783. In 1595 the place was attacked and held by Sir Walter Raleigh and was used as a base for his exploration of the Orinoco river in search of the mythical city of El Dorado. 

St Joseph has a rich history in our political landscape. It is not an incorporated municipality. It falls within the boundaries of the Tunapuna Piarco region. St Joseph is described as being a “marginal seat”, “marginal constituency” and, the perennial favorite “key marginal” are some of the phases coined in discussing this crucial seat in any general election. 

The St Joseph seat is a vital part of our electoral landscape in any elections going back as early as 1995 and it’s considered a coveted seat, once you win this seat, the political party that wins this seat usually wins the elections in Trinidad and Tobago. It’s a crucial seat as it’s where the outcome of the political campaigns is decided. It often attracts disproportionate attention and funding, as elections have been fought through the years. I believe it’s one of the most critical seats to watch in the upcoming elections for 2025.

The candidate chosen is also crucial for this seat and must have the trust of the various factions and the appeal of the people that live in this constituency. The potential candidate must have grassroots connections with the people of St Joseph and must have shown their ability through work and through the years of supporting the community. 

I believe the PNM has realised this; that is why they put so much resources into winning this seat during elections, they make sure that they put everything including the kitchen sink in order to retain this seat. This was done by any means necessary including some of the following ways where we heard of accusations of mass food card distribution, alleged bribing of voters and the promises of Cepep jobs for all voters that supported their party in the August 2020 elections. 

Political strategy is about making the right decisions at the right time and it seemed that the right recipe to get the right candidate for St Joseph in the last three consecutive elections was not correct for the opposition party to appeal to the voters. Carlos John was one of the memorable and lovable members of Parliament where he won the St Joseph seat in 2000. He won the seat with one of the largest margins ever seen on a United National Congress ticket. I personally worked with Carlos John as his campaign manager in contesting and winning the seat back then. He again won in 2001 (the7th Republican Parliament). 

Fast forward to 2024, and where the race to get the right candidate is on. We cannot make another misstep and choose a candidate that has so many potential fallouts waiting to happen where that person can be attacked for their past incarnations. Where there are so many questions still to be answered for various reasons it will be just more trouble than it’s worth or where a potential candidate can openly disrespect hard working stalwarts in the constituency.

Change is inevitable in how we think about candidates and who is suitable has to play a part in our decision. The UNC’s best chance is to target the St Joseph seat wholeheartedly with a candidate known on the ground to the St Joseph people and one that the people would be happy to work with, especially the constituency executive.  

Now is not the time for people with overbearing egotism that have bullying tendencies that can turn off hardcore people or for their past to come back to bite us in the behind or now is not the time for people that can end up breaking up any coalition forged for the future to ensure success. The UNC is poised to attain a win in St Joseph, if they choose wisely.

PNM’s desperate response to crime and the state of our energy sector are simply inadequate in all areas. In their attempt to address the most serious issues in our country, all we see are constant deflections, accusations and innuendos. The end result is that the government has failed to perform in crucial areas to keep our economy buoyant and keep citizens safe.

The PNM Government has taken Trinidad and Tobago to its highest murder rates in history. Taken us into a living nightmare, with killings in broad daylight, in full public view, with record numbers of home invasions and with the overseeing of the contracting of our economy. Further, with the continued destruction of the energy sector. It is time for a change as we cannot continue like this.  

Neil Gosine is an insurance executive. He was appointed a temporary Opposition Senator and is also the treasurer of the UNC and a former chairman of the National Petroleum Marketing Company of Trinidad and Tobago. He holds a Doctorate in Business Administration, a Master’s in Business Administration MBA, BSC in Mathematics and a BA in Administrative Studies. The views and comments expressed in this column are not necessarily those of AZP News, a Division of Complete Image Limited.

Support independent journalism. AZP News is an independent news organisation that is not affiliated with any big business and depends solely on advertising to pay our bills. Therefore, we are asking for the generosity of our readers to help us with small donations of any amount, but we will be happy with $20, $50 or $100. Click Here to Donate


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *