With the Local Government Elections (LGE) just 10 days away, two independent candidates on Monday
Candidates at Monday evening’s debate
evening went head-to-head with representatives of the major political players at the University of Guyana Student Society (UGSS) debate aimed at promoting citizen and student advocacy.
The debate saw Pastor Wendell Jeffrey and Malcolm DeFreitas up against candidates for A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) and the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) as well as Team Benschop; Team Legacy; Guyana Nation Building Corp and Youth for Local Government.
The candidates reiterated why they should be elected, putting forth their vision for the city of Georgetown.
Some candidates vowed to re-establish Georgetown as a city of vibrancy that would be recognised internationally, while others guaranteed attention to building stronger families in communities.
Sherrod Duncan of APNU/AFC explained that every country has a capital but not every country has an international city, pledging to internationalise Georgetown if elected.
“Part of our vision is making Georgetown an international city and there are certain things that go hand in hand with an international city. An international city has functioning infrastructure, and good services, good roads, good lighting, the garbage is picked up on time, the vendors are organised in a certain way, and the markets are organised in a certain way. There is a sense of normalcy and a sense of decency and a sense of pride; this is what we want for Georgetown.”
On the other hand, PPP/C candidate Shazad Sookram said that his Party intended to transform the city into a “vibrant” space with sustainable management with respect to the ever-so worrisome garbage situation.
“We want to develop our city into a vibrant city, into a green city. We have a huge garbage problem and we believe in sustainable management; we don’t believe that you go clean up the city and next two months, garbage is back again and nothing happens, anything that is done must be done in a sustainable way and we will see to this,” Sookram said.
The Guyana Nation Building Corp noted that its main focus lay in strengthening and building families.
“Local Government and the involvement of civil society is key and fundamental because we need more people on the ground to get involved in their own affairs. We need the single mothers who can balance that $50,000 budget with three children, hefty light bills and can lend that advice in regards to how people’s communities are developed,” the group’s candidate said.
Questions were posed to the candidates from audience members, who quizzed them mainly on the issues of security, job creation, garbage disposal, revenue generation, zoning and removing the Camp Street Prison from within the city.
Pastor Jeffrey, in response to the question of the relocation of the Prison, highlighted that even though it was a move that should be taken, Guyana was not in a financial position to do such.
“What I would suggest is that they need to reduce significantly the amount of people that they have at the prisons right now until they can build a better facility. Yes, I think it should be removed, but I think it would be just political grandstanding for me to say that we should move it, it’s not cost-effective to do that right now.”
On the issue of security, most candidates agreed that policing groups were a must.
All candidates stand motivated to serve fully if elected.
This debate series is to continue in other municipalities in the coming days leading up to the polls.