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Jul 6, 2015

Anthony Sabal Hits Campaign Trail Ahead of Dangriga Bye-election

As we do just before any major election, over the weekend News Five went to the scene of the scheduled bye-election in Dangriga to get a last minute feel from both party candidates on campaign progress, challenges and just basically the atmosphere on the ground. Arrangements were made in advance with both political parties, but unfortunately U.D.P. candidate Frank “Pawpa” Mena opted out for his own reasons at the eleventh hour. But we did manage to get P.U.P. candidate Anthony Sabal, a brand new politicians thrust into the toughest race of his life. Mike Rudon has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

In just two days, political rookie Anthony Sabal will go up against veteran politician and former U.D.P. Mayor Frank “Pawpa” Mena. The P.U.P. had actually considered boycotting this election because of a lack of resources, while the U.D.P. is Petrocaribe-powered. In this race, Sabal is the definite underdog…but try telling him that. Three weeks ago he hit the ground running, and hasn’t stopped since.

 

Anthony Sabal

Anthony Sabal, P.U.P. Candidate, Dangriga

“Very, very positive, optimistic and I must say energized. I thought I knew Dangriga…born and grow here…but when you touch base with the people on a house to house campaign, you learn so much more and you feel so much more for them and with them. And it’s very, very positive. As you walk around my people they know me. They know what I stand for, and that little phrase I use that somebody has the money and not the man, and we have the man…it is because that was a phrase used by a gentleman to me, that when he saw me campaigning that was his way of expressing to me that I had his vote.”

 

According to Sabal, there are concerns typical to a town that appears to be suffering from long term, chronic neglect – including of course infrastructure, health services. But one of the particular cries of the people, he says, is the lack of jobs, especially for the young people.

 

Anthony Sabal

“This town has been neglected. Our young people need to be actively involved. They need to be engaged. The next thing they tell us is that they don’t want just short term programs. One other person described that we have roll it and stop it – when it was time for the Town Board elections some money tricked in…we see a few projects, and it seems as though more work was done before the Town Board elections than after the Town Board elections. Now a bi-election is coming up and we are seeing the same thing, and my people are saying that we are not fooled – this dah roll it and stop it. We want something more long term.”

 

To attempt the improbable, the P.U.P. has had to mobilize its machinery across the country, and even on Sunday, the slowest day of the week, the office in Dangriga was in full gear. Sabal has the help of P.U.P. soldiers like Rodwell Ferguson who has spent every day of the last month o the ground.

 

Anthony Sabal

“I’m trying to see as many people as possible, but there may be one or two persons I missed. And so I depend on their neighbours. Each day, each day, I have been in a different area, and then I begin again on another street. So I have already done a portion of Benguche a week ago. Today I’m in another area. Tomorrow I’ll be hitting it again. So every minute of the day I’m in a different area and I usually ask the person I see – could you please tell your neighbour who is not at home that I was in the area? It’s not that I wanted to miss anybody, but as I said I began hitting the ground running, and it was running real fast trying to see everybody in Dangriga, in Hope Creek and in Sarawee. I must also say it is like a family. When you see other representatives from other areas – whether they were parliamentarians…whether they are Standard Bearers who come in to help, to ensure that the message, our message is being sent out there and we are meeting the people, that P.U.P. cares and we will be here even after the election.”

 

There are reports that the U.D.P. generals have also been on the ground in Dangriga for the past month, though they weren’t this Sunday – at least not that we could see. Still, Sabal says that Petro-dollars have been paying for a non-stop liquor-fest since the by-election was called.

 

Anthony Sabal

“There are those who are trying to fool our people. There are those who are trying to fool our young people. This is not a drink up or a party up. And I am sure that our people are watching. Our people know and our people in their own way are analyzing. I haven’t seen you, but all of a sudden now we have people sitting in Dangriga, sitting in the clubs buying drinks. The roll it money is being used in the wrong way. In Sarawee and Hope Creek people tell you about the drains…the rains are coming. We need drains, the floods will be coming. We need a better education…we need to send more people to school, we need programs, we need industries…Petrocaribe could have been used for so much more that would have helped also to generate funds, give people a better quality of life.”

 

So why should you vote for Anthony Sabal? Even if against all odds he is victorious, he will be a voice crying out in the wilderness. Still, he says it will be a powerful voice, carrying the message of the people.

 

Anthony Sabal

“U.D.P. win…they will say Dangriga love we. Are we satisfied with what is happening in Dangriga, Sarawee and Hope Creek? And if we are not satisfied, we need to send a clear message, because what that will do when we win this election…it will mean that the government will have to spend more in Dangriga. Yes the government has the power right now. Yes, P.U.P. will be the next government. But in the meantime winning this election will mean that the government of the United Democratic Party will have to spend more in this area – more than the measly point nine million dollars that was allocated, more than what was on the tape – the two million dollars spent on a bye-election. And we are trying to ensure and remind our people. This bye-election is very, very important. We need to send a clear message, and I will be a voice there reminding everybody, and there is a lot we could do together.”

 

All we saw of Frank “Pawpa” Mena on Sunday was this stage set up near the entrance to Dangriga, the site of a rally scheduled for Sunday night. Still, there is no doubt that on Wednesday, the full power and might of the incumbent U.D.P. will be in full effect. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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