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Jan 18, 2012

Tertiary Level Institution’s Mayoral Debate

A mayoral debate was held on Tuesday night at the St John’s Junior College, organized in conjunction with the University of the West Indies. There are five candidates, including three independents contesting the March seventh elections. The questions put to them were meant to test their platforms on City issues and their political acumen. So who had the better answers? News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The campaign for City Hall in the upcoming municipal elections continues across the Old Capital where five mayoral candidates are contesting the leadership of the Belize City Council.  On Tuesday evening the runners participated in an open debate held at SJC’s Fordyce Chapel where a range of issues were discussed.  By and large the responses offered during the question and answer segment appeared to be an exercise in diplomacy, save for independent candidate Ernesto Torres whose answers were as ambiguous at times as he was intent on obedience of traffic regulations.

Kristy Chan, Moderator

Kristy Chan

“This question is for Mr. Torres.  The question asks: What kind of change do you think you can bring to the people of the city if you become mayor?”

Ernesto Torres, Independent Mayoral Candidate

“The changes you will see in Belize City, that you will have a traffic flowing very much safely, very much convenient, a flow that will be continuous.  Our streets that will not be broken up because we will regulate our flow so that we do not break up our streets.  You will see better drainage because we will be making more money and protecting the monies we collect.  We will not be spending the monies the way it should not be spent.  You will not see laziness, absentees.  We will definitely must cut the salary down of the council and the mayor so that we could have more money.”

Darrel Bradley

The involvement of residents from the South Side, particularly those living in underserved communities was very much among the topics of discussion.  The socioeconomic needs of that half of Belize City have long been ignored by both major political parties at the municipal and central levels of government.

Darrel Bradley, Mayoral Candidate, U.D.P.

“One of the ways that I want to make a real difference is to include all residents, including residents of the South Side into our focus of development.  One of the major focuses of my City Council will be to promote job creation and opportunity and I think that that is one of the ways, one of the big ways that we could make residents in the South Side feel that they are connected.  Another thing that we could do is to promote some of the good work that the Central Government is doing in the South Side, for example, like the South Side Poverty Alleviation Program and we could target a lot of resources in the city in the South Side.”

While Bradley responded tactfully his opponent, Karen Bodden, opted for a more precise answer in addressing the issue of crime and violence as it affects residents on the South Side.

Karen Bodden

Karen Bodden, Mayoral Candidate, P.U.P.

“On May 21st, 2008 when the grenade was thrown on Mayflower Street the call for action was clear, it was heralded that our South Side of Belize City was indeed in trouble and when we look further we look at the need for crime prevention, drug prevention and violence prevention to be introduced in our schools from kindergarten through [to age] twelve.  Working with the Ministry of Education to accomplish that would be one of my priorities.”

Torres’ reply to that very question was a direct swipe at previous answers given by both Bradley and VIP Candidate Paco Smith.

Ernesto Torres

Job creation, he believes, are among the many broken campaign promises.  Again he stuck to fixing the streets.

Ernesto Torres

“Why promise people jobs and unu can’t man!  The revenue we collect at City Hall is for the infrastructure.  What we need fu do at South Side da improve the street structure and ask government that dehn put more lights so dehn people could walk da night safely.  That da what we need da di South Side.”

Kristy Chan

“This question is for Mr. Okeke. Will an oversight body be put in place to oversee the business of the council?”

Stephen Okeke

Stephen Okeke, Independent Mayoral Candidate

“If an oversight is necessary to oversee the business of the council an oversight body will be put in place.  But where the council is autonomous and does not need a babysitter the council will function effectively especially when one of my mark is that it will be an open and participatory and inclusive governance.  There will be nothing to hide.  There will be nothing kept away from you.  You will be able to come in anytime in the day and get the information you need.”

Paco Smith

Paco Smith, Mayoral Candidate, VIP

“Personally, I will not see the need for an oversight body to come and oversee the business of an autonomous body like the Belize City Council because when I am your mayor I will definitely ensure that there is better use of existing resources.  There will be strict adherence to policies and procedures and when they are not deemed to be suitable they will be amended and/or changed.”

While the overall tone of the debate was subdued one elderly person was ejected from the gathering following inflammatory remarks he made during the Q&A segment. 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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2 Responses for “Tertiary Level Institution’s Mayoral Debate”

  1. Be Real says:

    i like how Mr Torres always punches above his weight class. No joke even though I too at times wonder if Mr. Torres believes he can win after so many attempts.

  2. Earl Grey says:


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