PUP snatched the grand prize, Belize City — turf of the UDP’s most powerful ministers
BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Mar. 8, 2018– Thousands of Belizeans in Belize City, San Pedro and the other district towns began casting ballots in important municipal elections yesterday, Wednesday, March 7, when the polls opened at 7:00 a.m., following which there were 12 hours of voting until 6:00 p.m., when the polling ended and the counting began to determine who would take up the reins of the local governments in the country’s nine municipalities.
Although all the official figures have still not yet been processed and made public by the Elections and Boundaries Department, the incumbent United Democratic Party (UDP), which had control over the majority of municipal seats, saw a decrease in the number of seats they controlled as a result of important gains by the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP), which recaptured Belize City, the commercial capital of the country that has been in the hands of the ruling party for nine years.
The task of putting together a team in Belize City to contest the elections fell to the PUP’s National Deputy Leader, Hon. Cordel Hyde, the Lake Independence area representative, who selected mayoral candidate Bernard Wagner, a former banker and first-time political aspirant.
Hon. Hyde assembled what was dubbed the PUP’s “Rebirth Team-11,” a dynamic group of young and first-time candidates which hit the campaign trail in November after the team was officially introduced at a public rally at Belize City’s Pound Yard Bridge.
While the tally of votes presented by the Returning Officer, Colin Griffith, was read out last night following the counting of the ballots at the ITVET campus, the figures are not as yet official, until they are published by the Elections and Boundaries Department.
According to Griffith, the leader of the PUP’s team and Belize City Mayor-elect, Bernard Wagner, received 10,318 votes, while the UDP’s mayoral candidate Dion Leslie picked up 9588 votes.
It is noteworthy that the PUP’s Micah Goodin, an Amandala journalist, garnered the highest number of votes across the country for both the PUP and UDP – 11,196.
PUP councilor candidate Oscar Arnold got 10,967 votes; Javier Castellanos, 11,064; Ryan Elijio, 11,019; Aisha Gentle, 10,991; Delthrude Hilton, 11,088; Michael Noralez, 10,903; Dr. Candice Pitts, 11,132; Allan Pollard, 11,113; and Albert Vaughan, 10,642.
In San Pedro, the most important tourist town, the PUP was first projected as the winner, but a recount that was ordered saw the PUP’s lead vanish and the UDP come out on top. Another recount is now underway and the PUP has dispatched an attorney to the island to oversee the process.
In the northern towns of Orange Walk and Corozal, the PUP has been able to take all 7 seats.
Orange Walk Town returned PUP Mayor Kevin Bernard, but this time, with six PUP councilors. Mayor Bernard was elected with a whopping 5,260 votes, compared to the UDP’s mayoral candidate Phillip De La Fuente, who garnered 2,593 votes. The elected Orange Walk Town councilors are Ian Cal with 5317 votes, Josue Carballo with 5352 votes, Rozel Arana Flores with 5376 votes, Fernando “Big Sanch” Sanchez with 5311 votes, Ladrick “Mad Bull” Sheppard with 5597 votes and Haresh “Indian Buay” Vaswani with 5054 votes.
Dangriga Town returned a UDP town council with one mayor and 5 councilors; the 6th councilor position was captured by the PUP’s Erica Jang.
In the southernmost town of Punta Gorda, the UDP captured all 7 seats.
Belmopan returned UDP Mayor Khalid Belisle and his six councilors to their seats. The Belmopan victory appears to be a boost for the political fortunes of the ambitious area representative Hon. John Saldivar, who is aspiring to lead the UDP and is expected to mount a challenge to the UDP’s Deputy Leader Hon. Patrick Faber, the Collet area representative and Deputy Prime Minister.
Mayor Khalid Lester Belisle received 3,298 votes, compared to his PUP challenger Tanya Santos, who finished the race with 2,355 votes.
Elected to serve as councilors in the Belmopan City Council are Jacklyn Jay Burns with 3327 votes, Paul Pio Chun with 2992 votes, Isidoro Philip “Richie”Galvez with 3053 votes, Jem Eleanor Pascascio with 3190 votes, Angel Amado Pastrana with 3110 votes, and Louise Geraldine Willis with 3215 votes.
In the twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena, the UDP returned incumbent Mayor Earl Trapp and his team to office.
Official results posted by the Elections and Boundaries Department have confirmed that Mayor Trapp garnered 4,642 votes compared to the PUP’s mayoral candidate Marconi Matus, who earned 2,646 votes. There were two other mayoral candidates: Lupita Orellano Ferguson “Alva Orellano” received 182 votes, while Roody Lewinsky Wade picked up 64 votes.
In the race for the twin towns, Bernadette Fernandez finished in first place with 4,732 votes.
A total of 52,761 electors cast ballots in the race for the twin towns.
In the cultural capital of Dangriga, which returned its UDP town council, the team was headed by mayoral candidate Francis Humphreys, who polled 1,692 compared to his PUP challenger, Derrick Valasquez, who received 1,343 votes. Elected councilors in Dangriga are Yadira Diego with 1.538 votes, Gary Francisco with 1,608 votes, Aaron “Jake” Gongora with 1,703 votes, Alexander “Lexus” Joseph with 1,606 votes, Earth Lopez with 1,611 votes, and Cheryl Molina with 1,649 votes.
In Benque Viejo Del Carmen Town, the UDP was returned to power with Mayor Gerardo Marconi Sosa, who polled 2,091 votes. The PUP’s mayoral candidate, Cristian “Danny” Castellanos, finished the race with 1,056 votes. Elected to serve as councilors in Benque Viejo are Alvaro Enrique “Bayo” Gongora with 2,116 votes, Jose Antonio “Tony” Guerra with 2,009 votes, Marcos Moises “Checha” Kotch with 2,029 votes, Noemi “Mimi” Perez, with 2,024 votes, Miguel Angel “Charcoal” Thompson with 2,011 votes, and Dora Leticia “Leon” Victorin with 2,006 votes.
In Punta Gorda Town, Mayor Ashton Akeem McKenzie was elected with 1,181 votes; the PUP mayoral candidate, Carlos “Obeah” Galvez, received 941 votes. Elected as councilors for the Punta Gorda Town Board are Kevin Joseph Choc with 1,083 votes, Winston Felix Chun with 1,105 votes, Joicelyn Dawson with 1,093 votes, Cindy Bochub Martinez with 1,152 votes, Franklin “Kranka” Polonio with 1,264 votes and Raynel “Polo” Tate with 1,145 votes.
The Elections and Boundaries Department has still not released the official figures for the election results in San Pedro and Belize City.