Clint Chan Tack
LORENZO Sammy is hoping to break new political ground on for himself and the Progressive Empowerment Party (PEP) by winning the Debe South by-election for the party on February 7.
The Prime Minister advised President Paula-Mae Weekes of the February 7 by-election date in a statement issued by his office (OPM) on January 3. The Debe South seat became vacant after the death of UNC councillor Purushottam Singh on February 14, 2021. The district falls under the jurisdiction of the UNC controlled Penal/Debe Regional Corporation (PDRC). There are 12 polling stations in the district.
Sammy will face the UNC’s Khemraj Sunil Seecharan and the PNM’s Judy Sookdeo for the seat on February 7. The trio filed their respective nomination papers at the Elections and Boundaries Commission’s returning office at the Shoppes of Debe compound in Debe on January 17. While the PEP initially questioned the nomination process for the seat and wanted nomination day to be shifted from January 17 to 31, the party gave Sammy the green light to throw his hat in the ring.
While Debe South has long been regarded as a UNC political fortress and falls under a corporation that is controlled by the UNC, Sammy, 20, is ready for the challenge he is facing on his debut in electoral politics.
A son of the soil of Debe South, Sammy is pursuing a double major in geography and environmental and natural resources management at the University of the West Indies in St Augustine. He describes himself as someone whose been very active in the community from an early age. Sammy has been involved in youth groups and sport camps for both football and cricket.
A young man from humble beginnings, Sammy believes that as someone who has faced the same struggles, hardships and issues as many people in his community, he can make a positive difference as an elected councillor. “I offered myself as a nominee because as a resident of Debe South and the political history of my community I strongly believe that the residents are ready for a change.”
Sammy said, ” There are many issues over the past years where the residents have been given empty promises and have been badly neglected. I am of the opinion that it is my duty as a young politician to invoke change in my community and to be a powerful representative.”
He’s confident that the majority of the electorate will set aside traditional loyalties to the UNC and give him a chance to serve them. Sammy also doesn’t believe that the UNC’s unbroken stint in charge of Debe South and the PDRC has seen much benefits for the people of Debe South.
“As usual, promises have been made in the past to improve the community but this has not materialised. The PEP has the vision and the fortitude to bring about real change and provide hope to the residents.” As he hits the campaign trail, Sammy promised to work hard with the PEP “to ensure that change is manifested for the betterment of the residents and they are ready to support that change.”
What are the priorities Sammy will focus on if elected as councillor?
“It is no secret that the biggest issues faced in this community are a lack of pipe borne water, flooding, improper drainage, terrible roads and poor living conditions among many others.”
Sammy said, “Our people are in dire need of jobs, health care and a representative that is passionate about serving them, who they can depend on. I am here to give them the representation that is badly needed.” He vowed to do what he could, with the resources available to him, to provide the residents with whatever they need.
He also promised he would never abandon his burgesses and not be a politician they see only at election time. “I will stand with my people, to fight for what they deserve, even if it means becoming a nuisance to those above me.”
Sammy said he will not be daunted if he is the only non-UNC representative at the PDRC.
“Winning this election will be a very clear indication that the citizens of TT are ready for change. The people are tired of history repeating itself and believe it is time for unity. This is not something to be daunted about, and I will not be intimidated.”
Sammy is mindful of the impact that covid19 has had on the community. “Debe is known as the land of diversity; more so, food diversity. Here, we have many different food restaurants, food vendors, businesses and young entrepreneurs. We have people who are strong and resilient.”
He said, “Covid19 has drastically affected this area, since many businesses, and restaurants were closed for prolonged periods. In a time where people were in financial strain and looking for assistance, once more, our political leaders have failed to provide for the people.”
Sammy also believes that local government reform is something that is long overdue and very much needed.
“I believe that local government reform is desperately needed as the present and past governments have been given opportunities to make the necessary changes desperately needed for the country and the people.”
Sammy hoped through his example, more young people across TT can get involved in serving their respective communities in whatever way they can.
“I look forward to making a contribution to the redevelopment and betterment of the community in which I live as a start of a longer life of committed political service.”