Belize - Belize News - - Great Belize Productions - Belize Breaking News
Home » Miscellaneous, People & Places, Politics » City Mayoral Candidates Take Bliss Stage for U.B. Forum/Debate
Feb 22, 2018

City Mayoral Candidates Take Bliss Stage for U.B. Forum/Debate

Fresh from being nominated, Belize City’s four mayoral candidates attended a special forum organized by the University of Belize on Wednesday evening at the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts. Even with months of campaigning behind them, there are still two weeks to go, and residents are speaking up about how the Council constituted on March seventh should go about addressing many of the critical needs of the rapidly transforming Old Capital. Regardless of who ultimately wears the mantle following the elections, News Five’s Aaron Humes reports that the pressure is on to succeed.


Aaron Humes, Reporting

After opening statements from each candidate, four pre-prepared questions were asked, addressing topics ranging from poverty to Council efficiency, the impact of crime to working for the greater good of residents. The men of the hour got the chance to hammer home their platforms.


Bernard Wagner

Bernard Wagner, P.U.P. Mayoral Candidate

“The City is not a city of buildings, but it is a city of people, and we as a Council have to care for the people. We are always about the people. We can’t have ostentatious buildings and glorify these buildings. We must always come back to the people.”


Paco Smith, B.P.P. Mayoral Candidate

“I can safely say that we would undertake the most effective due diligence and get a sense of consensus, go about the most effective and efficient way to address them.”


Ernesto Torres

Ernesto Torres, Independent Mayoral Candidate

“Dehn gaan concrete a hundred and seventy [streets], thanks to the Bond; let me tell you, we need to improve the drainage system in our City. During the time of dry, that is the time; during the time of rain, we must see where the water pools and what causes the water to pool. In the dry, you clear out, so that when it rains the water flows and it doesn’t go into your property’s lower flat.”


Dion Leslie

Dion Leslie, U.D.P. Mayoral Candidate

“There is no direct or one answer when it comes to crime. It has to be a collective effort amongst all stakeholders in this City; not only the City Council, but the police department, the residents, the schools, all of us that live in this city and call this city home. So there is no one answer to it. The Council will do its part, where we can: in working with community policing; in providing security cameras in open spaces; in working to maintain law and order in the city wherever we can, where it is set out in our mandate.”


The Council’s spending habits are a key concern for residents, who wonder who will foot the bill for the many projects on display. The P.U.P.’s Wagner says the Council needs to trim the fat in more areas than just salaries.


Paco Smith

Bernard Wagner

“Five hundred and forty-thousand [dollars]; the Council brings in revenue of about twenty-four million [dollars] per year. Five hundred and forty thousand when compared to nearly twenty-four million dollars is a mere two-point-two five percent per year. But when I look deeper figures I see there is two point five million dollars paid to consultants on an annual basis; what is the consultant’s fee? Who is getting these fees; that’s what I want to know. And when I look again I see (Applause) we spent twenty three million per year, our expenditure bill, and thirty-five percent of that bill is represented in administration and finance. Is that equitable? I ask you the question, is that equitable?”


For much of the evening, incumbent councilor and U.D.P. candidate Leslie appeared on the defensive, given that many of the complaints come during his term in office. But he wants a chance to fix it.


Dion Leslie

“I can tell you that I know B.E.L. is working tirelessly throughout the City, to upgrade the lights, to change all the lights to L.E.D. lights which will be brighter, and that’s happening in neighborhoods throughout the City as we speak. The transportation system is part of our manifesto, to put in place a proper transportation system, to upgrade the transportation system, and that falls in line with the comprehensive National Transportation Master Plan, that will be put in place soon by Central Government, which will address all these issues of proper taxis, proper buses, and everything that deals with transport. I feel sympathies with those who have been robbed; but we all need to come together as a community – the universities, the parents, the residents, the City Council, Police Department, everyone – we need to come together and only that way we will solve this issue.”


And after two and a half hours of healthy debate, it was abrazos all around, and back to the campaign trail, with March seventh now looming. Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

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.

Advertise Here

You must be logged in to post a comment Login