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Feb 8, 2018

The Vision of the Political Aspirants in Punta Gorda

In our ongoing series on mayoral candidates, we headed to the southernmost town of Punta Gorda.  The population is mixed and there are just under four thousand voters who are expected to cast their ballots on March seventh. The town faces a myriad of issues which growing municipalities’ experience, especially in the area of garbage disposal, which is central to the campaign.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano hit the campaign trail with both the incumbent U.D.P. councilors as well as the aspiring P.U.P. candidates to find out their vision for P.G. Here’s his report.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The political race in Punta Gorda is in vigorous progress, as both major parties are busy with door-to-door campaigning ahead of the March seventh municipal elections.  The composition of the present town council is all red, and the opposing slate, led by former mayor Carlos Galvez, is seeking to return the People’s United Party to office for the next three years.  Peini is a battleground unlike any other in terms of its unpredictability.


Carlos ‘Obeah’ Galvez

Carlos ‘Obeah’ Galvez, P.U.P. Mayoral Candidate

“The people have been very receptive, the response has been very positive, you know, people welcome you into their doors, you know, and you’ve been hearing, “Yes Mr. Galvez, yes Carlos, yes Obeah, we need you back.  A lot of things have gone wrong, you have the experience.  You’ve demonstrated a commitment to develop PG and this is what we want.”  We want somebody who put the people first.  You are mandated to do streets, you are mandated to do highways, you are mandated to do buildings.  But listen, you cannot neglect the basic needs of the people.”


Fulfilling those needs is a responsibility that twenty-five-year-old Ashton McKenzie signed up for three years ago, when he first offered himself as a candidate for the United Democratic Party.


Ashton McKenzie

Ashton McKenzie, U.D.P. Mayoral Candidate

“I have been very active in my community.  It feels good when you are able to nurture the needs of your community and watch it transcend from being at one level to being on another level. In terms of what we’ve been doing over the years, infrastructural, we’re looking at a municipality that has a lot of needs and the Government of Belize, in partnership with the town council, we have been working towards meeting the needs of our municipality infrastructural, that includes the concreting of streets, the improvement of sporting facilities.  Take for example the sporting complex, the Union Field, the parks and playgrounds in the municipality, the improvement of the market, so many different things.”


The ongoing works, says Galvez, is a last-ditch attempt at appeasing voters.  He encourages the electorate to take the money and run.


Carlos ‘Obeah’ Galvez

“What has been happening is that traditionally, the United Democratic Party has the concept of just pouring down this money, pouring down this money on the ninety-ninth minute.  Right now they are doing some grading of streets and you can see that it’s only around election time this happens.  Then come election day, of course, it’s based on money.  So we are telling people, the voters simply, this money belongs to you!  Tek dehn money and vote them out.”


Joining the U.D.P. slate for the first time is Cindy Bochub.  She is the Vice Principal at the Saint Peter Claver School.  Her venture into electoral politics is to be able to serve the needs of the Punta Gorda’s youth population.


Cindy Martinez-Bochub

Cindy Martinez-Bochub, U.D.P. Councilor Candidate

“I want to see my community provide more for our youths.  Our young people are crying out for help and I am passionate about that because I am a teacher and I know the needs of our young people and I would really like to see them wanting more and doing more, having more interesting things to do, learning more and having a community that takes care of their needs.”


Former two-term mayor Anthony Westby, who rose to power in the town council on a previous P.U.P. slate, is demanding accountability from the next administration, aside from better streets.


Anthony Westby

Anthony Westby, Former Mayor, PG

“First of all, I would like to see better street conditions, for one.  I would like to see better accountability of our taxpayers [dollars], how it’s being spent.  Personally I think that our taxpayers and these persons who are paying taxes, these monies are being abused.  Secondly, I would like to see town hall meetings at least every three months whereby the people can question those in authority as to how their finances are being spent and if there are any discrepancies they can bring it up at the town hall meeting at the same time.”


So why should voters come out on March seventh to cast a ballot in favor of either of the two mass party candidates?  We’ll let them tell it.


Ashton McKenzie

“I am offering myself because in the position that I am currently at, you get to see things from a very unique perspective, and a perspective in which, you know, I am aware of the constraints of the council, what are our challenges, what are our strengths and what we can definitely capitalize on.  In terms of voters giving myself their support to be the mayor and my colleagues forming the next town council, why should they give me their support?  One: my opponent has had multiple opportunities to be at the helm in terms of being the leader of our municipality and did not make much of it.”


Carlos ‘Obeah’ Galvez

“You will see that the experience, the commitment and the dedication that I have for this Punta Gorda Town and the love for the people, I would humbly ask that you vote for the entire team, but be it that the voters decide otherwise then that’s their choice, that’s their democratic right.  I can’t go against the will of the people.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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