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Mar 13, 2018

Bernard Wagner Brings in Old Hand at City Hall

Mayor-elect Bernard Wagner and his team of ten councilors will be sworn in on Wednesday afternoon, exactly a week after their landmark victory in municipal elections on March seventh. The P.U.P. nominally won six of ten divisions and votes in the other four, knocking off the veteran United Democratic Party slate led by Dion Leslie. But actually governing will be more difficult than the campaign. Wagner did not even have a one-week grace period and when he turned to an old, but trusted hand for guidance, insiders leaked it out. But as Wagner told News Five’s Aaron Humes, it’s still all about the people.


Aaron Humes, Reporting

The upper floor of City Hall was practically a ghost town when we visited this morning. Everyone was in their assigned offices, no chatter in the hallways. There’s a new sheriff in this town, and he means business.


Bernard Wagner

Bernard Wagner, Mayor-elect, Belize City

“I’m trying to get my foot grounded. We had to establish presence here at the Hall, it’s important. And so we felt that as a group we needed to begin to see the workings of public administration. I come from the private sector obviously and things are run differently from the private sector, so we need to get acclimated to that type of environment.”


Even before being officially sworn in with his fellow councilors, Wagner has approached former Mayor of Belize City, former Government Minister and certified public accountant Jose Coye to conduct a special review of the Council’s finances for the last six months. Despite Coye’s own past, Wagner expressed faith in him as the man for the job.


Jose Coye

Bernard Wagner

“He is the proper choice; first, because he is [a] certified accountant; he is doing this pro bono, free of cost to the Council. Additionally, he has experience in the workings of the Council. So who better to serve as a transition? And listen, Joe, Mr. Coye has been asked to provide a report, a simple report on the expenditure that the Council accrued from the period of the election date, backwards up to six months. We felt that we needed to understand what those expenditures were about, and he will be essentially providing a simple report on the expenditure of the Council within the last six months.  The noise you hear out there – obviously, they are afraid of what this audit will disclose, obviously. But I always tell people: they bring up all these ‘fake news’ about Joe Coye; the bottom-line is we want an audit done with the situation with Minister [Anthony] “Boots” [Martinez] – get an audit done on that! Our council is moving ahead, and we want to find out what happened for the last six months of this administration, and once that is finished, Mr. Coye rides off into the sunset.”


Wagner says he has spoken to the senior administrators including City Administrator Candice Miller concerning outstanding contracts and other Council issues. But what does he want voters and residents to know?


Bernard Wagner

“The residents of the City can expect from myself and my City Council that we will be a transparent City Council; we will be accountable to them, we are their servants. We want to listen more to them; we want to be more accessible to them. And one thing they will get from my leadership is a leadership of integrity, transparency and accountability. That is what City residents want: they want to feel comfortable that their administration is looking after their purse and making decisions where we don’t suffer loss. I ask of them to be patient with us: we are a new team, a fairly young team; none of us have served in City Hall before, so we will have our growing pains, that’s a part of the process. But at the end of the day, we are genuine people who really want to serve, and who really want to serve well.”


The new era begins on Wednesday. Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

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