INDEPENDENCE, Stann Creek, Mon. Aug. 10, 2015–Last March, Melvin “Flippin” Hulse, a former minister of government and former area representative for Stann Creek West, was jubilantly celebrated by his party, the United Democratic Party (UDP), as the standard bearer who would battle in the next general elections to unseat Hon. Rodwell Ferguson – the incumbent of the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP).
Since then, there has been a fall-out between Hulse and the party, which has forced him to vacate the seat. A secret recording of Hulse making unflattering comments about his party leader, Prime Minister Dean Barrow, in private, and also alleging bribery to the tune of millions of dollars by party officials with Petrocaribe funds was soon followed by an apology by Hulse and his swift resignation as the UDP’s candidate for that electoral division.
On Sunday, August 9, 2015, the UDP held a party convention in Independence Village, Stann Creek, to find a replacement for Hulse.
Notably, that convention brought out many more voters than last year’s convention, but the winner netted a smaller percentage of votes than Hulse did when he ran in that divisional party convention.
UDP chairman, Albert August, provided us with the official results, which indicate that the UDP were able to mobilize over a thousand more voters this time around: 3,154 voters, as opposed to 2,134 last year.
The winner in the convention was newcomer Walter Garbutt, Sr., a retired educator who has also been working as protected areas director at Southern Environment Association (SEA) in Placencia. Garbutt captured 49% of the votes, or 1,554 votes.
Meanwhile, Nathan Young garnered 1,209 votes at Sunday’s convention, amounting to 38%.
There was a third contender in the race – the retired Labour Commissioner Ivan Williams, who received 327 votes or 12% of the votes.
Despite a lower turnout at last year’s convention, Hulse netted a larger percentage of votes than Garbutt did this in Sunday’s convention. Hulse won 57% of the votes, or 1,223.
Stann Creek West has over 8,000 registered voters.