Senior Political Reporter
Shocker! Sheldon “Fish” Garcia, the man who in 2021 became the only UNC councillor in the PNM-controlled Arima Borough Corporation, has resigned, claiming a lack of support from the party.
Garcia (Arima Central) has been functioning as an Independent since he resigned from the UNC last Monday and he’s mum on which political direction he’s taking ahead.
Garcia’s resignation from the UNC preceded that of Warrenville/Kelly Village councillor Samuel Sankar, who confirmed his action last Friday.
Garcia’s victory for the UNC in the 2021 by-election for Arima Central was described then as a “shocker” and an “upset” in the PNM-controlled council.
A PNM supporter since 2005, Garcia, of Malabar, said he had joined the UNC in 2020.
He contested the 2021 by-election for Arima Central, which was held for seven years by then-councillor Lisa Morris-Julian. The seat became vacant when Morris- Julian was made a candidate for D’Abadie O’Meara for the 2020 General Elections and went on to become MP.
Garcia had won the by-election with 764 votes to PNM candidate Dr Juliet Bernard’s 692 – and he became the only UNC councillor alongside the council’s six PNM councillors.
On the by-election night, UNC leader Kamla Persad- Bissessar had said Garcia’s win “strengthened and fortified” the UNC.
But Garcia’s May 15 resignation letter sent to Persad- Bissessar stated, “Kindly accept this letter as formal notice of my resignation as a member of the United National Congress effective immediately.
“Since January 2021, I have served as a member of your party having successfully contested the by-election for the Arima Central electoral district. Madame, I have served this district with distinction and passion, especially because I was the lone UNC elected representative serving on the Arima Borough Council and I was determined to make the difference.
“Despite my best efforts, support from the party and most of your colleagues, financiers and supporters has been, almost, if not completely absent. As a person passionate about the people of my community, to say that I was left repeatedly and constantly disappointed throughout my term of service is an understatement.
“This falls well beneath my expectation and what I am willing to accept as I seek to improve my electoral district and my beloved Royal Chartered Borough of Arima.
“It has been my esteemed pleasure serving my burgesses who reposed their confidence in me, their neighbour, their friend, their brother. I remain respectfully committed to the people of Arima Central.”
Garcia said the letter was acknowledged but he was never contacted by any party leadership officials.
He added, “I’d created history by becoming the only UNC councillor in the Arima Council, which was a strong PNM entity. Upliftment of our community is my sole aim but as my letter stated, I didn’t get the necessary support from the party to further what was needed.”
Garcia is known as being “Arimian to the bone,” serving as a longstanding football coach and bus driver. When he won, he’d pledged to be a councillor who would make a difference and wanted to continue being “on the ground” with the people – but he didn’t get UNC party support to reinforce the area’s cause, he noted.
Garcia added, “The community is aware of my decision to resign and they’re okay with it, they understand and support.”
Garcia, currently overseas, said he remains committed to the people but didn’t know what direction he’s heading in next and declined queries on joining other parties.
Two UNC councillors “gone” in a week
With the resignations from the UNC of Sheldon Garcia and Samuel Sankar in the space of a week, the party’s nominations, which were scheduled to close yesterday, will include nominees for Arima Central and Warrenville/Kelly Village.
Changes are also expected among certain UNC nominees for the Sangre Grande corporation and in a couple of other corporations, UNC sources also hinted.
Sankar was the lone UNC councillor at a Local Government Ministry consultation on Local Government reform last August. The night before the event, Persad- Bissessar had announced at a UNC Forum that councillors should boycott the consultation. Sankar said he’d left the forum before the announcement and was unaware of it. Subsequently, Sankar said he received death threats, was deleted from UNC chat groups and was not invited to party events.
Last Friday, Sankar said he was delivering his resignation to UNC’s headquarters and would function as an Independent councillor for the rest of the LG term.
UNC officials, who didn’t directly comment on the two men, said yesterday that there are nominees “for all 141 Local Government seats” and “people were free to resign or remain ... but UNC will win the Local Government polls and general elections.”