General — 10 June 2014 — by Adele Ramos
Penner out, John August in for Cayo North East race

Belize City mayor Darrell Bradley is not the only municipal government official who has been trying to make his foray into national politics. The current mayor of the twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena, John August, Jr., has also been pursuing a seat in Parliament.

If August is successful in the 2017 general elections or an earlier by-election that could be forced by a criminal conviction against Elvin Penner, he could replace Penner as the current United Democratic Party area representative for Cayo North East.

However, his political opponent, Orlando “Landy” Habet of the Opposition People’s United Party, says that win is unlikely, because August is “not a real threat”—although Habet acknowledged that August has strong backing from the ruling United Democratic Party.

Over the weekend, August emerged victorious in the UDP convention for Cayo North East, beating his opponents, Eduardo Juan and Anthony McNab, by wide margins. Elvin Penner did not contest the elections.

A total of 1,454 ballots were cast, and 975 were for August, 398 votes for Juan and 72 for McNab. Nine ballots were rejected.

Unless a by-election is held before 2017, though, August will have to wait until then to run the national race against Landy Habet – who told us today that he is confident that he will beat August.

Habet claims that August is a “town mouse” – and has little support in the 8 villages within the constituency.

The current area rep, the UDP’s Elvin Penner, won against Habet in the 2012 general elections by a sliver of 17 votes, and Habet told us that this was due to the registration of persons who should not have voted in that constituency.

He said that many Guatemalans were registered in December 2011 and January 2012, just before general elections, and they could not find 90% of them when they checked. The Opposition PUP has suggested that a reregistration exercise is necessary, he said.

Habet said that Cayo North East has 5,850 registered voters to date, and the 25% turnout at Sunday’s convention was low, considering that three persons ran in the race.

He said that at the last PUP convention for the division in 2011, they had a 30% turnout for only two candidates, which was a good turnout, he said, because public officers who support the Opposition would not have gone out to vote at the PUP convention.

Of note is that August also won by a wide margin in the 2011 mayoral race, garnering a reported 1,375 votes, while Juan, who was a contender in that same race, received 585 votes.

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