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Feb 27, 2018

Dion Leslie and U.D.P. Walking the Old Capital

One of the hardest political battles will be waged in Belize City on March seventh. It is the biggest municipality with as many as forty-five thousand voters. The departing Mayor Darrell Bradley was big on infrastructure, and the U.D.P. mayoral aspirant, Dion Leslie is relying on that record to retain control of city hall. On the other side, the P.U.P. believes that the city needs more than infrastructure. News Five’s Isani Cayetano joins Leslie and his team on the campaign trail in the Fort George area.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Canvassing Belize City, the largest of nine municipalities across the country, is as arduous as it is fulfilling for the U.D.P. Eleven.  Its members, as well as its most ardent supports, have been out on the campaign trail since June of last year.  With much ground already covered, mayoral candidate Dion Leslie admits that it is virtually impossible to visit every household in this ever-growing city.  The experience, nonetheless, is rewarding.

 

Dion Leslie

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

“Whenever we campaign we are welcomed in people’s homes.  People have seen the work we have done, they see that this council is proactive, that we deliver on our mandate and so it’s been enjoyable visiting people, listening to them, hearing their concerns and sharing their vision, most importantly, of where they want to see their city grow.”

 

The team is in the vicinity of Rhaburn’s Alley, an area that is within the Fort George constituency.  This electoral district has been an opposition stronghold for as long as one can remember.  Leslie and his team are unfazed by its voting tradition.

 

Dion Leslie

“The residents in Fort George they’ve seen the work that not only a U.D.P. Belize City Council has done in the area, but also that of the central government and we’ve delivered a lot for this area, an area that’s been under P.U.P. control for thirty something years and before the U.D.P. six years ago, the development and transformation in the city, in this area especially, you know, a lot was left to be desired.”

 

Here to assist in the absence of a caretaker is Godwin Hulse.  He has not been assigned a constituency per se, but he has made himself available for the campaign effort.

 

Godwin Hulse

Godwin Hulse, Unassigned Caretaker

“I’ve lent my support to the Fort George area because as the mayor-to-be-elected has just said a while ago, this council has done tremendous work.  In six years, a hundred and sixty-odd streets [have been concretized.]  When you look back twenty-nine years before, if every council had done say ten or fifteen streets in their term, we probably would have finished the whole city by now.  And so, it is not only the issue of the areas that are not completed, it is also the issue that the entire psyche of the city has been lifted.  Anybody who visits Belize now says to you, “Oh, it looks different.  Oh, it looks like New York.  Oh, it looks like this and that.”  But most fundamentally I think what we need to know is that if you look at the streets and I’ve heard this comment about not being able to eat streets, it’s only the cement and the steel that is imported you know.  All the other materials are local, truckers got work, people mixing the cement on the street got work, contractors got work.”

 

It is that kind of economic impact, the effect of which has created employment for many Belizeans, that Leslie is banking on.  His detractors have chided him and the ruling United Democratic Party government for the many infrastructure projects that have been undertaken in the face of growing hardship.

 

Dion Leslie

“The first thing I would tell them, go talk to any of those young men who are on the streets right now working who have a job and dehn wahn tell yo, yoh could eat street because they’re eating off of the streets.  They have a job right now and with our plans and what we intend to do, they will continue to have jobs for the next three years and after that, especially under this U.D.P. City Council under a U.D.P. central government.”

 

Incumbent Councilor Hyacinth Latchman-Cuellar, is one of several women on the U.D.P. slate.

 

Hyacinth Latchman-Cuellar

Hyacinth Latchman-Cuellar, U.D.P. Councilor Candidate, Belize City

“I will tell you that the door-to-door experience is very humbling.  Myself and Councilor Singh we’ve ran a very successful program for the Belize City Council which is the Because We Care Program to which we cater to the elderly and senior citizens.  Through that program we were able to deliver one thousand pantry packages, including rice, beans, sugar, the basics and I must tell you that it was well received.  I am humbled just by going into homes delivering these packages and talking to people, talking to them about our experiences at the Belize City Council, what we go through as brothers and sisters and it’s an overwhelming feeling and its one that I am humbled and I thank God for.”

 

Senator Hulse says he has all confidence that the Belize City team will emerge victorious on March seventh.

 

Godwin Hulse

“As much as we think that people don’t notice things, I feel very strongly that with the work that has been done, people will give this council another chance to continue the work.  I mean it would be a pity for us if it didn’t happen.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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