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Aug 28, 2017

Dion Leslie is U.D.P. Mayoral Candidate for Belize City; 1 Incumbent Councilor Dropped

2008 was the last time the United Democratic Party staged a contested convention for the mayoral nomination for Belize City; the U.D.P. has been in control of the City Council since 2006.  That year, more than six thousand, six hundred voters cast ballots at the Belize City Center, and incumbent Zenaida Moya defeated her then-deputy, Anthony Michael.  Nine years later, the party convened at the ITVET for a convention with a similar storyline – a majority of councilors siding against a colleague, though in this case they were lined up with the prohibitive favorite.  So was the result any different?  News Five’s Aaron Humes reports.

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

Of the two mayoral candidates, Philip Willoughby, the decided underdog, was front and center at the gates of the ITVET compound on Sunday talking to voters, while Dion Leslie was inside, meeting them before they went into the long lines for each constituency. Which approach works better? You decide.

 

Philip Willoughby, Mayoral Aspirant

“Maybe; it could be. I am hoping it is, that I am the first person they see; so I opted to be out here and I am comfortable with that.”

 

Dion Leslie

Dion Leslie, Mayoral Aspirant

“I greet them as they come in through this gate and I talk to them in the line – I am not campaigning in the line actively – I am just saying hello. Some peple already know they are supporting me; they just want to see my face and say hello, so that’s basically what I am doing, just walking around and saying hello.”

 

Not to be missed were the party’s top leaders – “Boots” Martinez, Michael Finnegan, even Prime Minister Dean Barrow was out and about with walking stick and wife in tow. But the headline of this story is the faces of the men who say that accompanying the Old Capital’s infrastructural revolution must be a social revolution, where residents’ needs are the council’s focus.

 

Philip Willoughby

Philip Willoughby

“Sustainable job creation will, create that, probably, sustainable thinking mentality for the residents, and I believe also reaching out to those who are in need, being that you’ve lost a loved one. There are also other benefits that exist already that we can find to apply to them, like the tax law that assists those who are indigent or sick and like that.”

 

Dion Leslie

“It’s a true Belize City vision, a true social master plan and vision for the city and the residents, and of course it gathers a lot and going with our master plan and putting things in place to better the way of life and help people, but at the same time staying core to the Council’s true values of streets, drains and sanitation.”

 

While Willoughby did not have a defined slate, a majority of his fellow councilors aligned with Leslie. Two of those are Hyacinth Latchman-Cuellar and Michael Theus, both going for their third terms.

 

Hyacinth Latchman-Cuellar

Hyacinth Latchman-Cuellar, Councilor Candidate

“People love conventions, that’s the truth. And I believe we have done our homework; we’ve been to houses, we’ve been canvassing different areas of the city – you might not have seen us, but we individually have been to different areas within the city asking people to come out on convention day, please support us, and of course for them to pick who they want because it’s a max of ten for the city council slate. So we are asking them to just choose your ten wisely, and of course, we feel like we have done our homework, we have delivered our services and this is the report card today.”

 

Michael Theus

Michael Theus, Councilor Candidate

“It shows that we are still a very vibrant party; it speaks to the actual leadership of Darrell Bradley and the fellow councilors. I trust that these people are coming out here because they have felt the work of the same corps of councilors who decided to support Dion Leslie, and therefore we are looking forward to a big win at the end of the day.”

 

Theus was right about the big win, but he missed out on being a part of it. Nonetheless, the new Mayoral candidate was sure to congratulate all who played a part.

 

Dion Leslie, U.D.P. Mayoral Candidate, Belize City

“It feels good, it’s gratifying knowing all the hard work we put in over the past month of a half, the late nights, the early mornings, the long hours. I always said you get out what you put in; and we put in a lot and I think we’re seeing it now. And I am very, very pleased and thankful for everyone who came out, first of all; and I am thankful to the party, to the secretariat of course, to the Prime Minister, to all those who supported me and my family and the team that was behind me. Everyone put in their pound of flesh; everybody had to deal with me stressing out and me getting ignorant and going through the motions, but it was all worth it in the end so I am very, very happy with that.”

 

Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

 

Five thousand, five hundred and eighty-nine ballots were cast and Dion Leslie defeated Philip Willoughby by a count of three thousand and seventy-three to two thousand, three hundred and eighty-eight, with one hundred and twenty-eight rejected ballots.  Willoughby received two thousand, nine hundred and fifty-one votes for councilor.  Hyacinth Latchman-Cuellar topped the poll with three thousand, nine hundred and thirty-eight votes; Alifa Elrington, B.Q. Pitts Junior, Doctor Alain Gonzalez, Judith Enriquez, Dean Samuels, Jason Edwards, Kevin Singh and Noreen Martinez followed in that order.

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