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Jan 25, 2018

The Municipal Campaign in O.W.

Our series on the campaign trail today took us to the northern municipality of Orange Walk where a split council headed by a P.U.P. mayor controls the everyday operations of the administration. Former U.D.P. mayor Phillip De La Fuente has thrown his hat back into the political ring, after having challenged the mayorship back in 2015 as the candidate for the Belize Progressive Party. But is the incumbent, Mayor Kevin Bernard of the P.U.P. willing to step aside? News Five’s Duane Moody headed north today and files this report.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

On the campaign trail in Orange Walk Town, former U.D.P. Mayor Phillip De La Fuente is taking on incumbent P.U.P. Mayor Kevin Bernard. As it currently the stands, the council is split, but both sides are seeking to seat a full slate when the last ballot is counted on March seventh in that northern municipality. For some months now, the political machineries have been in full swing, polling residents on concerns and providing hope that once in office, they can make the necessary changes for the future development of Orange Walk Town. Mayor Bernard and his team of four men and two women believe that the track record, put in place over the past six years, will secure another win for the P.U.P.

 

Kevin Bernard

Kevin Bernard, P.U.P. Mayoral Candidate

“We believe in hard work and we believe in hard work and we believe in ground work and campaign and visiting back our people because at the end of the day, we still need to go back and ask for that support. We’ve been house to house; we’ve been in most of the homes, we are right now in Orange Walk Central division and I can tell you the love…we have felt the love in Orange Walk East, we have felt the love in Otro Benque and we are feeling a bigger love again in Orange Walk Central. People have seen development; people have seen a council that has worked, people have seen a council that has been transparent and open and one that is willing to work with any and everybody.”

 

Bernard believes that residents have already made up their mind to vote for his P.U.P. slate on March seventh. But his political opponent, De La Fuente begs to differ. He says that Orange Walkenos are clamoring for a change and the U.D.P. has a vibrant team ready to take over the reins at the council.

 

Phillip De La Fuente

Phillip De La Fuente, U.D.P. Mayoral Candidate

“We do have two brilliant young women on the team but when you get to know them and hear them express themselves, you know that they are women who have their own ideas and their own vision as to where they want to see their town go. And it is the same with the males on the team. Some of them are young, some it is the first time jumping into elections, but when you get to hear them expressing themselves and the passion for their town; that’s where I believe we would benefit greatly if we would put a solid U.D.P. team in the municipality.  Working together with a U.D.P. Central Government would make Orange Walk progress. Our campaign platform is progress; we want to progress. We want to change for progress.”

 

But Bernard says that despite there being a U.D.P.-led central government, his council has persevered, upgrading over sixty streets and beating all odds to ensure that there is good quality of life for residents of Orange Walk Town.

 

Kevin Bernard

“This council found the ways and means of getting work done in our community. it dispels that myth where they always used to say you need a central government of the same party to be able to  manage; that is not so. We have shown Belizean people, we have shown Orange Walkenos and especially our supporters and independent thinkers that you can get the job done when you have the right people in place, when you have good management in place and when you are dedicated and committed to work and serve the people of your community.”

 

De La Fuente, who is no stranger to politics, says he has the heart that is needed for progress of his town.

 

Phillip De La Fuente

“I know what the municipality can do, I know what the mayor working along with the community can get down in our town. And I just don’t see it happening. I don’t see much progress in our town and I know that we can do much better. We can get a lot done in this town as long as we have somebody there that has the community at heart; has the town at heart and wants to do something for the town.  Never once did I cry that this one didn’t leave this for me and this one left us bankrupt. When you get in there, they put you in there to do a job. Stop crying, get the work done. The elections before, he campaigned on these very same things that he is campaigning on now.”

 

As to concerns of De La Fuente flip-flopping between political parties, namely the United Democratic Party and Belize Progressive Party, both mayoral candidates had different interpretations.

 

Kevin Bernard

“I pity his soul, but at the end of the day, he has a responsibility for his party. We don’t know which party he really belongs to, but at the end of the day, he decides to run under the U.D.P.—went B.P.P., gone U.D.P. We don’t know what he will do after he loses on March seventh.”

 

Phillip De La Fuente

“Even as a leader in the Belize Progressive Party, we were always looking at ways in which we could improve our town. The Belize Progressive Party is a party that’s always been looking into the Sarstoon area, looking how to protect and increase our security out there to protect our country. I have never changed my idea of what I should be doing for my country; I have never changed my idea as to what I have to do. So coming back to the U.D.P., I bring back that same drive that we need to get things done for our town.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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