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Feb 5, 2008

Two Patricks and a Carolyn vie for seat in Collet

Story PictureWhen political scientists look at election statistics they invariably search for small geographic areas that produce voting results representative of the nation as a whole. Such areas are called bell weather districts and by watching them we may get some idea of what will happen in the rest of the country. For the last several days, News Five’s Janelle Chanona has been walking the streets of a Belize City division which may hold some clues to the bigger picture.

Patrick Faber, U.D.P. Candidate, Collet
“We’ve gone U.D.P., P.U.P., U.D.P., P.U.P. and now for the first time, and this is why it’s such a threat to the P.U.P., it is going back to back to the United Democratic Party for the first time, it’s going to go back to back for Patrick Faber.”

Carolyn Trench Sandiford, P.U.P. Candidate, Collet
“I don’t hide from the people, I admit you can’t help everybody everyday, I am not a miracle worker but at least I try and I think that is what is important to them, knowing that you have somebody who try.”

Patrick Rogers, V.I.P. Candidate, Collet
“Deh people here know I dah wah man, I dah no no lee bway, I no wah bow down to nobody. I only wah listen to the collective wisdom of the people of Collet and that’s why we are going to win this one.”

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
The electoral history of the Collet constituency can be called many things but never “dull”. It still has the distinction of being the only divisional race to have been decided by one vote. That was in the 1993 elections when the United Democratic Party’s Faith Babb beat Remijio Montejo of the People’s United Party, 951 to 950. Fifteen years later, three candidates are fighting for the seat.

Twenty-nine year old incumbent Patrick Faber says because a P.U.P. Government was in Belmopan, his first term has been tough.

Patrick Faber
“For five years, I wrote letters, recommending people to the Lands Department, all of a sudden because it’s election they allow my opponent to come in and give out lease lots. They have not given us the community vote money, they have given it to the P.U.P. committee chairperson who has done absolutely nothing with it, they have not been giving the due resources for the division to the duly elected representative.”

But Faber is confident he’s still managed to make a difference in Collet.

Patrick Faber
“I have been able to hold Mother’s Day programs, I have been able to give toys at Christmas, I have been able to hold summer programs, I have been able to help those people who are in need of educational assistance, I have been able to help those in need, in time of sickness and in times of death and these things are not things that you get out there and talk about. I’m not one of those representatives who get out and trumpet. Those persons who have been helped by Patrick Faber know the goodness of Patrick Faber and that is why I can stand before you in confidence today.”

Faber’s time in Belmopan has not gone unnoticed. In 2003, he was arrested at a football game for cursing and assaulting the police. On Independence Hill, he’s often been the source of fireworks in parliamentary debate. But in August 2005, came the infamous incident on the campus of the University of Belize when Faber was restrained by police from entering a student forum being addressed by Prime Minister Said Musa. He was never convicted on any of those charges and has even filed a constitutional claim against the Police Department.

Patrick Faber
“I’m the kind of person, once that I’m doing the right thing I will stand up and I will fight. I am a member of the House of Representatives, just like Said Musa is and so I could never be a threat to him because then we could never progress in the business of this country if every time we go into the House of Representatives you deem me as a threat against him.”

But is his P.U.P. opponent a threat?

Patrick Faber
“She would make a good candidate but she’s running for the wrong party, a party that has done this country so much wrong.”

Out of a total of ninety-three candidates on the 2008 ballot, P.U.P. standard bearer Carolyn Trench Sandiford has the distinction of being only one of four women running for office.

Carolyn Trench Sandiford
“I do believe I’m the better person of course I’m a woman and that brings a unique perspective to the picture but I don’t think it’s just about being a woman, I think it’s about being the best candidate and I think that I am.”

Sandiford first threw her hat into the political ring in 2003 as a P.U.P. city council candidate. The entire team was unsuccessful but Sandiford says the experience and her work in the division will put her on top.

Carolyn Trench Sandiford
“I topped the polls for the P.U.P. in the entire city and I topped the polls for P.U.P. in Collet so that says something also about me. I’m hoping that my track record, the work that I have done and the vision that we have for Collet will take me through. So when I come to the people of Collet I’m saying I’m asking you to elect me and when I go to the House of Representatives I am going to take your issues and concerns, it’s power to the people.”

For most of the month her constituency office has been swamped with people, a number of whom are trying to access some of the Venezuelan housing money. It’s a scene that has played out across the city and one that the opposition has used as evidence to accuse the P.U.P. of buying votes.

Carolyn Trench Sandiford
“You can’t buy love, love is something that you don’t buy but the residents of Collet have issues, they have concerns and they’ve never had an area representative to go to so since I’ve come into the political forefront, since I’ve been working in Collet, whenever they have an issue or whenever they have a concern, they come to me.”

“You get into your office, you get into your constituency and you work. Resources are not just from Government, you can get resources from donor agencies, you can get resources from the private sector and you can raise your own money. But if you don’t have any vision and I’ve always said, he didn’t have a vision for Collet so when he got in he didn’t know where to go so he just didn’t go anywhere.”

Like Sandiford, Patrick Faber has been going house to house in Collet and since late last week, there’s been a familiar face in his crowd, the former Area Representative Faith Babb, who relocated to New York following her loss to Montejo in 1998.

Faith Babb, Former Area Representative
“What I have been hearing and seeing from Channel Five, the Amandala, the Reporter, tells me that I must come home to talk to those people in the division and ask them to do better because if they don’t love themselves, they are going to short change themselves. Love yourself this election, vote for the party that is going to better your condition. You had ten years of the People’s United Party and you haven’t gotten your fair share.”

A fair share is exactly what independent candidate Patrick Rogers is hoping for.

Patrick Rogers
“Collet mek we mek history this time. When one ah we get in, it would shatter that myth that it can’t be done. Once that myth has been shattered the fear it will put in the red and the blue machine, whichever one form government, will be offering more to our people from Corozal to Toledo.”

Operating from his constituency office on Vernon Street, Vision Inspired by the People candidate Patrick Rogers is confident he’ll be Collet’s choice on Thursday.

Patrick Rogers
“My address is the only Collet address on the ballot and at ending of it when they want to find me, they no have to cross the river. I deh right yah so. I live amongst them, I eat weh deh eat, I feel weh deh feel and I know what dah the beat of the street. We’ll be high three digits, if not over a thousand and if we get over a thousand we win this.”

All three candidates are campaigning for a better way of life in Collet.

Patrick Faber
“People are feeling the pinch out here. People are going to the store and buying an egg for fifty cents, going to the shops to buy a pack bread for a dollar and seventy-five cents so the money factor of buying votes and all of that may come in and play or even personalities may play a little role but by and large it is the issues are forcing people to make the right choice which is obviously going to be the U.D.P. on election day.”

Carolyn Trench Sandiford
“The greatest joy I’ve always felt is when I’m able to deliver the keys to someone for their home and I’m hoping that if I’m elected to the House to represent Collet, that is what I’ll be doing in Collet, delivering keys, fixing up houses because that is really my passion. I have been scrambling with the People’s United Party Government to get the fair share for Collet and I will continue to do so with any party that forms any government because Collet deserves a certain percentage of the pie.”

Patrick Rogers
“I’m no idiot, I’m no idiot. People understand when they talk to me I dah wah man with sense and weh I seh mek wah whole lotta sense to them so they no need no education fu understand whe I deh seh. Knowledge and understanding deh have and they have wisdom so I’m trusting the wisdom of the voters of Collet that they will see when they look eena my eye wah lion weh no wah bow down to no bway.”

With their campaigns all but over, all three candidates are now fine tuning their election day machinery to ensure that as many as possible of the more than thirty eight hundred voters in Collet make it to the ballot box. Reporting for News Five, I am Janelle Chanona.

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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