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Feb 10, 2015

Elections Run-up in Orange Walk

There is a total of nine town councils nationwide; the opposition party controls three. Up north, the People’s United Party hopes to retain the Orange Walk Town Council in the upcoming March fourth elections. The battle on the ground at the mayoral level is between Kevin Bernard and political novice Yvette Liu Torres. This morning, we caught up with the blue team as they reached out to Orange Walk residents. Liu-Torres, however, did not respond to our request for an interview. News Five Isani Cayetano reports on the race in Sugar City.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

In Orange Walk Town, like other municipalities across the country, campaign season is in high gear.  Streets, lampposts and other public spaces, are all littered with banners and other political propaganda.  On a pair of adjacent poles is an outstretched sign bearing an image of mayoral hopeful Yvette Liu-Torres flanked by six councilor candidates.  On another upright not far away, the People’s United Party’s standard flies majestically.  It’s high noon in Sugar City and the midday heat is oppressive.  Nevertheless, a dedicated team of P.U.P. supporters is busy canvassing an area fringing an open park.  They proceed from door to door meeting and greeting voters.  Leading the effort to evangelize them is incumbent mayor Kevin Bernard.

 

Kevin Bernard, P.U.P. Mayoral Candidate, Orange Walk Town

“Our campaign has been going very positive.  Of course you know there will be one and two individuals that will have some issues but that’s the politics of it; however, when you go into reaching out, the house to house, the individuals when you sit and talk to them.  The people are telling us that “mayor you have worked, we have seen you struggle and we have seen you deliver.”  And that is the message we are getting, that’s the message we are telling people also.”

 

It is a similar outreach being undertaken by the U.D.P. Seven, led by Liu-Torres.  Over the past few weeks she too, along with her team of supporters, has covered significant ground campaigning across town.  The goal is to bring positivity to Orange Walk and hope to its young generation.  To do so, they must emerge victorious on March fourth, a task which includes unseating Bernard.

 

Kevin Bernard

Kevin Bernard

“We are committed, we are willing to continue to bring progress to our town.  I am not the mayor that would sit at my house or sit in the office and don’t go out.  I go out, I walk the areas, I make sure that the work is being done, I try to reach around.  We have had consultations with residents through neighborhood meetings and these are things that we are saying, of course we can improve on that.  We want to be even more visible in the next term and that’s our commitment.  So the campaign has been going very, very positive.”

 

As part of our objective coverage of the 2015 campaign trail, I tried reaching out to Liu-Torres for comment on several occasions.  My request however, was declined on the basis of a hectic schedule.  Bernard, on the other hand, gave a synopsis of his term in office.

 

Yvette Liu-Torres

Kevin Bernard

“The experience has been very good for me as mayor for Orange Walk Town and for the council.  While we did work under a U.D.P., working under a U.D.P. government, I think we have been able to show to the people that we are capable enough to be able to carry out the work of the town.  This council has been able to achieve many things, many accomplishments which I can get into later.  Of course we had some huge challenges, one of them being the huge debt that we had to face.  But I am very, very pleased that we were able to deal with the more than half a million dollars in debt and by the end of this month we are settled with those debts.  So that has been something that I think is the positive part of our council having been able to stand against the challenge without any real financial support from the government other than the subvention.”

 

Its working motto, “It’s all about Orange Walk and its people,” the U.D.P. slate is also seeking to transform the northern township, seemingly through a familiar relationship with central government.  They have chosen to highlight municipal initiatives, including road works, an area of achievement which Bernard also lauds for his town council.

 

Kevin Bernard

“We still were able to bring development; we still were able to pave some streets.  We still were able to cement some intersections and we still carried out the basic services that the people so demand from us.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“In terms of either an existing mandate which remains to be fulfilled or a future mandate should you be reelected as mayor of Orange Walk Town, what are the people to expect from you and from your slate?”

 

Kevin Bernard

“Well first of all what the people would expect from me and what they will get from me is more dedication and more work.  We are saying to the residents that we know infrastructure, streets are one of the biggest challenges but we are going to make sure that we can bring further development to our town.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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