DANGRIGA TOWN, Thurs. Nov. 5, 2015–In the General Elections 2015, in the Stann Creek District division, which includes Dangriga, Sarawee and Hope Creek in the Stann Creek District, the incumbent, Frank “Pawpa” Mena of the UDP, was reelected, after besting Anthony Sabal of the PUP by 336 votes.
Frank “Pawpa” Mena won with 52.86% of the votes (2,360), while Anthony Sabal received 45.33% of the votes (2,024) and Anthony Petillo of the BPP received 0.90% of the votes (40).
In the Stann Creek West constituency, however, a recount is to be carried out today to determine the winner after controversy erupted over the counting of the last two ballot boxes. The division was contested by Walter Garbutt (UDP), Rodwell Ferguson (PUP), and Milton Palacio (Belize Progressive Party).
Reports are that Garbutt had been told that he had won the division and was celebrating when he was informed that in fact, two final boxes had not been counted.
When the counting was over, the report is, Garbutt had lost by 8 votes. He demanded a recount, which is to begin at 2 p.m. today, Thursday, and is covered separately in this issue of the newspaper.
In Toledo West, Ruben Oscar Requeña of the PUP won with 65.38% of the votes (3,173), while Juan Coy of the UDP received 35.30% of the votes (1,793) and Estevan Assi, Jr., of the BPP, received 1.85% of the votes (90).
In Toledo East, Michael Espat of the PUP won with 49.24% of the votes (2,687), while Eden Martinez of the UDP received 45.57% of the votes (2,487), Wil Maheia of the BPP received 4.12% of the votes (225) and independent candidate Llewellyn Lucas received 0.09% of the votes (5).
In Dangriga, a disgruntled voter told Amandala that many of the voters did not vote because they want to be given small grants or financial assistance. During the interview a man came up and told us that he had not yet received his money. He was told that another man would give him assistance but when he approached that man and made an enquiry about the money, he was told that that man had no such money.
Another voter in Dangriga told Amandala that indeed many would not vote without getting some money.
That voter said that he went to the polls early and cast his ballot, and that he did not seek any monetary compensation for his vote. He said that he voted for the development and improvement of the town.
On claiming victory, Pawpa Mena said that he was disappointed because he had made a diligent effort to rally those in his constituency and was expecting a larger turnout of voters.
After his victory speech, the re-elected UDP area representative held a victory motorcade, in which over 30 vehicles, loaded with enthusiastic supporters, made their way through the principal streets of Dangriga.
There were no incidents of violence.
The final count to declare the winner in Stann Creek West is being carried today at the Parish Hall in Dangriga.
The mood in Punta Gorda was subdued and voters slowly trickled in.
As at 12:30 in the afternoon, 2,539 votes were cast, which was 32.9% of those registered, a very low turnout. Many voters told Amandala that they were undecided, because not much progress was evident in the town, and some commented that although there are three projects being carried out in the town, which are the construction of two markets, and the civic center near the airport, the contractor and the workers were foreigners, and local people were not given jobs.
Eden Martinez (UDP) said that during the pre-election rally, over 300 documents for parcels of land were to be distributed to the people in Indianville,
A voter said that that the incumbent Mike Espat did not have an office and could never be seen.
Another voter said that the Government is doing well and he would vote to keep the transformation going. If he changed the administration, he said, the development would stop.
Another voter said that the People’s United Party was making wild promises, like a fisherman baiting his hook.
Cirilio Shal, a voter of Punta Gorda in the Toledo East division, said that when he cast his vote, he would be thinking about the development of the town and the alleviation of poverty.
A woman said that she would “vote red” (UDP), fearing that if she “voted blue” (PUP), she would lose her job.
Before the voting began in Toledo East, a taxi driver complained that Espat, the incumbent, was advanced in age and could not get things done the way a younger person could. He also commented, however, that many people have issues that require assistance, and when they wanted to see Eden Martinez, the UDP standard bearer, he was always unavailable and people had to consult his wife, and nothing much could be achieved.
He said that these are the issues some of the voters face when dealing with the area representatives, and calls on them to be like the Hon. Charles Wagner, a past Toledo East representative (PUP), a kind and humble man who served his people with love.