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Aug 4, 2014

U.D.P. CitCo Convention Draws Thousands to ITVET

Just prior to the firing of the sanitation workers, the U.D.P.’s convention to elect candidates for its city council slate, took place. On Sunday it was not known that the bread and butter of some workers were at risk and by all accounts, the convention was one of the biggest for the U.D.P.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The ebb and flow of voters, as they enter and exit the polling station on Sunday, resulted in a total of four thousand, two hundred and forty-two ballots being cast.  The exercise, quite easily the largest turnout in favor of the United Democratic Party in recent conventions, saw a cross-section of residents converging on the ITVET compound.  Of the many who came out to lend support to their candidate of choice, only ten will advance to the municipal elections in March 2015.  Leading the charge is incumbent mayor Darrell Bradley.


Darrell Bradley

Darrell Bradley, U.D.P. Mayoral Candidate

“It’s very spirited.  I saw all sixteen of the candidates; I visited all of their stations, wished all of them well wishes.  I think there is a lot of camaraderie out here.  The voter turnout is steady, we know that for conventions like these people like to go to church in the morning or they have their Sunday dinner then come out in the afternoon but still in the morning the numbers looked pretty healthy.  I haven’t gotten an accurate count thus far but we’re pretty confident in terms of the showing and we’re confident that the U.D.P. will be returned to office come March of 2015.  I am very pleased with all the people who have turned out, everything seems well, well organized and it’s a good day.”


Notwithstanding the oppressive heat, stalwarts of the ruling party, including Minister of State Mark King, availed themselves of the opportunity to do some campaigning.


Mark King

Mark King, Lake-I Area Representative

“At the end of the day I wear many caps today, of course this is the United Democratic Party and this is a family day so I am here to join in and bring out the people of Lake-I to support the convention.  And secondly, this is our convention to set our city council candidates in place for the largest constituency within the country, Belize City and at the end of the day we are just conducting that process.”


That process, an egalitarian exercise by all means, involved the participation of three female councilor candidates, including returning nominee Alifa Elrington-Hyde.


Alifa Elrington-Hyde

Alifa Elrington-Hyde, Councilor Candidate

“It’s Hyacinth [Latchman-Cuellar], myself and Noreen [Martinez] and it’s a funny thing because you seem to find that unless you really, really, really pushing people they are not necessarily willing to vote for that female.  They usually, they just look for the men, but I think there was a bit of difference this time around, I felt a lot of women were actually here to say, “Look, I am here to vote for the women.  If it’s only for the women I am voting, I am putting my x for the three women that are on the slate.”  So I think the energy was different this time around when it came to women who are actually on the ballot.”


Of the three women who took part in the convention, Hyacinth Latchman-Cuellar would receive the most show of hands.  A final tally indicates that as many as two thousand, seven hundred and ninety-six voters chose her as one of only two females to join the official slate.


Offering himself this year is Fredy Cantillano.  Since the gates were opened at ten o’clock, he has been fixed at the entrance, meeting and greeting in both Spanish and English.


Fredy Cantillano

Fredy Cantillano, Councilor Candidate

“Here I am under the sun and I will not get off from here, until this gate is closed I will move from here.  And I thank all the people that have seen the vehicles them around the different divisions and they are just getting on to them, coming here and giving us that support.  That definitely [shows that] my machinery is working fully and I thank all of them, of course, that they are working along by my side and I believe that at the end of the day definitely the victory will be hours.”


While that triumph would elude Cantillano, today’s turnout in favor of four-time candidate Phillip Willoughby is a barometer being used to gauge the public’s receptiveness of him as an aspirant in the 2017 general elections.


Phillip Willoughby, Councilor Candidate

Phillip Willoughby

“I see all of them as an uphill battle, all of us are equal.  To me, today I am not a councilor but single individual fighting to get a seat to go back in the council.  That’s how I view that.  So, to me I consider myself no better, no less than any of my other colleagues.”


Isani Cayetano

“Now you are in a unique situation in that you are also eyeing a seat in central government.  How does that work in terms of either your campaign efforts and the duality of your role?”


Phillip Willoughby

“Well, [it’s substantial] if I were to gauge it I would measure it as substantial because if I were to say I would like to run or represent the Albert Constituency I would have to have a great showing out here today, most naturally.  To say that I have some sort of representation and backing from the people.  So, again, all my efforts and energy has to at least gauge around that number that I said about four hundred solid.”


It is unclear whether Willoughby was able to pass muster among voters in the Albert Division.  What is certain is that with a total of two thousand, eight hundred and ninety-three votes overall, he was second only to Dion Leslie.  That outcome is due in large part to the political machinery.


Darrell Bradley

“Each of the sixteen candidates had to go out and they had to link primarily with the standard bearers and they communicated with them and they had to set up their own independent link.  Some of them, of course, are associated with each other and they are cooperating but it’s basically a unified front.  It’s very difficult when you have sixteen candidates.  Of course the returning candidates are working pretty much together so that the eight of those people would be joining with their machinery.  The other eight are kind of separate out there but we’ve noticed a very organized campaign, I’m very impressed with some of the new candidates in terms of their ability to bring out people and the turnout will reflect that and the turnout come March of next year likely will [also] reflect that.”


The new U.D.P. City Council slate includes Dion Leslie, Phillip Willoughby, Hyacinth Cuellar, Jason Edwards, B.Q. Pitts Jr., Dean Samuels, Alain Gonzalez, Michael Theus, Alifa Elrington and Kevin Singh. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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