Headline — 20 June 2018 — by Rowland A. Parks
Senator Paul Thompson is standard bearer for Albert

Senator Thompson beat back challenge from Senator Valerie Woods

BELIZE CITY, Sun. June 17, 2018– Perhaps one of the most hotly contested constituency battles within the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) took place within the Albert division between PUP senator Paul Thompson, the incumbent standard bearer of the division, and his challenger, Senator Valerie Woods. The intensity of the inter-party struggle was played out in social media by supporters of Thompson and his challenger, Senator Valerie Woods, and climaxed this evening when the results of the all-day balloting, which took place at the PUP convention, came in around 6:00 p.m.

Supporters of both candidates were gathered outside the gate of the Anglican Cathedral College compound, anxiously awaiting word from inside the counting area.

Eventually, the word began to filter out—Senator Paul Thompson had gotten the majority of the ballots from two of the first boxes that were counted.

A few minutes afterwards, the word was out that Thompson had taken a decisive lead. It was all over for challenger Senator Woods, and as she emerged from the counting area, the look on her face conveyed the impact of her loss.

Senator Woods’ supporters fell into silence as Senator Thompson’s supporters roared into life, shouting and jumping up with jubilation.

PUP chairman Henry Charles Usher made the official announcement, saying, “Mr. Landy Espat [returning officer] has turned in the official results of today’s election … the official results are that a total of 936 votes were cast. We had 20 that were spoiled, and that were rejected. Receiving 320 votes was Mrs. Valerie Woods, and receiving 576 votes was Mr. Paul Thompson. Mr. Paul Thompson is the new standard bearer for the People’s United Party in the Albert Division.”

Senator Woods, in accepting her defeat, said, “The people decided, and that’s good with me …

Supporters have passion, that’s what party politics is about … sometimes some go very high with the passion.”

While Senator Woods declined to indicate whether this is the end for her in terms of electoral politics, she said she is encouraged by the support that she had been getting countrywide, particularly from women and young girls. “You don’t walk away from something like that easily,” she said.

Senator Thompson began his brief remarks by acknowledging Senator Woods, saying that what does not hurt you makes you stronger.

“At the end of the day, we are all PUP’s and what we have to do is make sure all PUP’s come out and vote on election day … We have a ‘big tent’ approach in general elections. We have to win the support of people, who are from the other side”, he said.

“The next step is waging war against poverty,” said Thompson. “Free education and making sure that people are relieved from poverty. The poverty rate in Belize is almost fifty percent. We have to take that down. Right now that should be the goal of the People’s United Party,” he added.

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Deshawn Swasey

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