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Jan 30, 2018

Can the Blues Upset Incumbent in Dangriga?

On Monday, we gave you a brief look at the two mayoral candidates for Dangriga. U.D.P.’s Francis Humphreys is the incumbent, a well-known figure in the town having served as a teacher and principal in the town for many years.  His political rival, Derrick Velasquez, says he is in touch with the issues in the culture capital. The U.D.P. candidate is not able to release the details of his manifesto, but says that it has something for everyone. The P.U.P. candidate says he wants to bring tourism and employment opportunities. Andrea Polanco has more from both candidates.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Are things better off in Dangriga today than they were three years ago? If you ask that question to Francis Humphreys and Derrick Velasquez – the answers couldn’t be more different. Humphreys is the current mayor and the U.D.P.’s mayoral candidate. Derrick Velasquez is a new comer to the political scene in the town and the P.U.P.’s mayoral candidate. Humphreys and Velasquez are preparing for the march seventh municipal elections and have been on the campaign trail for the past few months.

 

Francis Humphreys

Francis Humphreys, U.D.P. Mayoral Candidate

“When are you coming to fix my street? Could you take care of that drain over? This is what I expected and our term isn’t finished yet. And so, when those concerns reach me when I am out there on the campaign trail or by way of the campaigners, as much as possible, we try to address them. This is a huge community now and it stretches all the way to Wageirale. It goes into Rivas Estate. It goes into Monument Site and so it is a practical reality that there are areas, which require additional attention, and so when we are alerted about them, we do it. We purchased a grader for this community when there was none when we got here. And so we can respond with our grader; we can respond with proper street fixing material – look out there and you will see it stock piled out there right now; that’s all in. So, when the constituents tell us, ‘I want you attend to that street,’ we can do it.”

 

Derrick Velasquez

Derrick Velasquez, P.U.P. Mayoral Candidate

“The issue of employment is a big deal. On a daily basis, you will find young women, young men coming over to say can you help us. And we want to minimize that. We want to provide employment for people so that they could earn their living so that they could live in dignity. The streets are a big deal because everybody uses them; you have the children who go to school; the motorists drive on the poorly constructed roads. But it is more than that. I want to restore the dignity of the people in the culture capital. We want to bring tourism to this town and when we dance around the drum, we want to do it with pride.”

 

Going into March seventh, Humphreys is confident that he has put in the work – he says they have addressed some of the unemployment issues and have done a lot of infrastructural works in town.

 

Francis Humphreys

“We support sixty two families in this town by way of the wages we pay and the fringe benefits that we offer them; that’s obviously not enough. Our plan going forward is to ensure that more and more businesses come in to the municipality, find it user friendly and are prepared then to invest and grow along with the municipality. And we have seen a considerable number of that over the past three years, most of that have been in what I call the commercial sector; shops/supermarkets and a couple of them are in areas like in area of motor vehicle repair and the construction sector.  In addition to that, go out there and see the cemented streets we have done. Go out there and visit Alejo Beni Park and see the arches we have built there and resurrected it with solar lighting. Go out and see Eldred Martinez Park which we just opened along with the first Coconut Festival that happened in this municipality.   Last but not the least, are these two huge infrastructure projects, one of which was just opened on Saturday. I am talking about Russell ‘Chiste’ Garcia Auditorium. I was delighted to see many people capitalizing and selling food and beverages out there and the same thing applies to Carl Ramos Stadium when that finally became operational. Every time there are events, there are vendors out there who make money and therefore help to support their families. So, those two projects, over the years, will help to generate that kinda of economic activity for our people.”

 

But Velasquez disagrees. He says Humphreys has failed over the last three years.

 

Derrick Velasquez

“He and his team were given a task to improve the condition of this town and I can tell you with all of Dangriga that he has failed miserably. So, this is not a referendum on Francis. This is about a philosophy that has the people of Dangriga submerged and that is the philosophy, along with Dangriga, that I am fighting against. And come March seventh, we will beat that philosophy and give Dangriga a better future.”

 

Both candidates say they have plans to stimulate the economy in the town; create jobs; fix roads and address drainage – but that is left to be seen for after March seventh. But for the next five weeks it will be these two candidates asking the constituents for their votes. It will be a former BDF who has spent many years abroad versus the incumbent – well-known former teacher and principal who served as the Mayor for the past three years.

 

Derrick Velasquez

“I decided to get back to Dangriga because of the condition that I left home almost thirty years ago. Hardly anything has changed, except for the population growing. The rate of poverty has increased as a result and what I can measure from past administration that less attention has been paid to the citizens of the town, but you have past administrations whether it’s our party or the next party talking about infrastructure building roads, instead of building people. So, I decided to get in this race now; to get people involved in building Dangriga from the people’s point of view.”

 

Francis Humphreys

“We are energized. We are moving forward. We know that, having experienced what we did in our three year term, we will do more because we will not be burdened with undoing the three years of misrule that we inherited and the three years of broken finances; that’s a thing of the past for us, thank God. And so moving forward, we can go directly into the additional projects and the plans we have in our manifesto.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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