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Oct 15, 2020

Francis Meets Another U.D.P. Challenger in Freetown

In the Freetown Division, Francis Fonseca of the People United Party has represented the division through thick and thin.  This year, Fonseca, a former Minister of Education and former party leader, is facing a challenge from attorney Orson “OJ” Elrington from the U.D.P.  It is Elrington’s first bid for electoral politics and he is doing so in the north side constituency.  A veteran politician, Fonseca has taken on and successfully defeated four different U.D.P. heavyweights since 2003.  Today, News Five’s Isani Cayetano was in the Freetown where he caught up with both Fonseca and Elrington on the campaign trail. 

 

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Seventeen years after being elected as the Area Representative for Freetown, Francis Fonseca has forged an enduring relationship with residents of this constituency.  They have voted for him on four consecutive occasions since his foray into electoral politics in 2003.  His latest challenger is Orson “OJ’ Elrington, standard bearer for the United Democratic Party.

 

Francis Fonseca

Francis Fonseca, Area Representative, Freetown

“As you know, they’ve sent what the U.D.P. describes as big dogs into Freetown.  They’ve sent Doug Singh, they’ve sent Michael Peyrefitte, they’ve sent Lee Mark Chang, they’ve sent Carla Barnett and our team has defeated every single one of them because of our relationship with the voters of Freetown and we have every confidence that we will do the same thing on November eleventh.”

 

Fonseca’s political opponent, for all intents and purposes, was arguably the first in the United Democratic Party to begin actively campaigning well ahead of the 2020 general elections.  Having covered sufficient grounds within the division over the past few years, OJ is confident that the seat will be delivered to the UDP this time around.

 

Orson ‘OJ’ Elrington

Orson ‘OJ’ Elrington, U.D.P. Standard Bearer, Freetown

“I decided to take up this challenge because my father was a public servant, my grandfather was a public servant, my great grandfather was a public servant and therefore I thought that it was my time to be a public servant to offer myself to be of service to the people of Freetown.  And so, I think that the people of Freetown have been receptive to that, that they see that I do things differently.  They know that I am there consistently, I am not only around now because it is election time.  So people say, “What are you doing differently?”  The truth is I am doing nothing differently, we’re just continuing the work that I have done since the day I put my name on the ballot which is to be of service to the people of Freetown.  That’s it.”

 

Admittedly, these past twelve years have been a challenge for Fonseca since being in opposition prevents him from delivering many of the services that his constituents need.

 

Francis Fonseca

“Obviously, in opposition we are in a limited capacity to effectively deliver, but certainly people remember the work that we did under a People’s United Party government and I think that has helped us tremendously. The big issue in Freetown right now is the economy of Belize.  Jobs, the opportunities for small businesses, we have a lot of entrepreneurs in Freetown, young entrepreneurs who want an opportunity to access small business financing, that’s a big issue.  But jobs and the economy… Obviously, this year has been a very, very challenging year for our entire country and very, very challenging for the residents of Freetown.  Many of whom work in the tourism sector.”

 

For Elrington, having canvassed the constituency, he has learned that the people of Freetown are clamoring for an area rep who makes him or herself accessible to residents in the area.

 

Orson ‘OJ’ Elrington

“One of the things that came as my greatest surprise was that the number one issue, not even close, by a far margin was that persons were upset about the lack of accessible representation.  They felt that the representation which they currently have was not accessible, it only came around when it was election time.  It was not a person that they could call, it was not a person that they could meet.  That is why, for me, from day one, one of the things that I have done consistently is that one, I provide a network of persons for persons to be able to reach out and contact me.  So I have an entire team of persons who volunteer year round to ensure that they are able to hear the concerns of residents and relay them to me.  That is one layer. Secondly, every single resident I have ever met I gave them my phone number so that they can directly access me.”

 

Beyond being easily reached, however, is the idea of change.  According to Fonseca, for things to get better in Freetown, the present administration has to.

 

Francis Fonseca

“Twelve years is enough of the U.D.P.  Twelve years of failure, twelve years of neglect, twelve years of corruption, the United Democratic Party has failed the people of this country.  Belize needs a new government, Belize needs a new leadership and the People’s United Party, I think, represents an opportunity for Belize to move in the right direction.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.


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