Highlights — 27 July 2019 — by Rowland A. Parks
UDP loses Ladyville village council chairmanship to the PUP

LADYVILLE, BELIZE DISTRICT, Sun. July 21, 2019– The United Democratic Party (UDP) and the People’s United Party (PUP) brought out their full campaign machinery in village council elections in Ladyville today, the largest village in the country, which went into the elections with an incumbent UDP village council.

Although Prime Minister Dean Barrow graced the polling area in Ladyville with his presence in support of the UDP 7 and Deputy Prime Minister Patrick Faber stayed on the ground throughout the balloting until the polls closed around 5:00 p.m., things did not fully go their way.

Some residents of Ladyville were saying, “Today, we will send a message to Belmopan. We need a change in Ladyville.”

When the results were finally tallied, the incumbent UDP chairperson, Dian Wite, lost her seat to longtime PUP Belize Rural Central campaign manager, Bernardo “Beanzi” Bennett, who defeated Wite by 65 votes. Wite picked up 746 votes while Bennett secured 811 votes.

Two councilors were elected from the PUP 7 slate, while the UDP gained the majority with four councilors.

The UDP machinery in Ladyville went into high gear with notable UDP functionaries such as the former Belize Rural Central area representative Michael Hutchinson and present area representative, Hon. Beverly Castillo. Castillo was joined by Cabinet colleagues at various times, as a sea of red T-shirts remained visibly dominant throughout the day.

Supporters of both political parties took up positions outside the Roman Catholic Primary School, where the balloting took place, to await the results, as the shadows of night began to envelope Ladyville.

Sometime around 9:00 p.m., PUP supporters outside were saying that the party took all the seats. No one, however seemed to know the source of that information, which proved not to be accurate.

The UDP supporters were more restrained; in fact, they appeared grim, as if though some terrible thing was unfolding before their eyes after the results of the first few boxes were tallied.

When villagers were going to cast a vote inside the polling areas, there were placards with the names of the chairpersons from ,the two political parties. The chairpersons were numbered 1 to 3, while the councilor candidates were numbered from 4 to 14.

Upon entering a polling area, each voter was given two pieces of blank paper. One of the papers was to vote by number for a chairperson, and the other paper was to vote for councilor candidates. If a person is not used to voting in village council elections, the process could easily lead to confusion.

In Hattieville, the other large village in the Belize Rural Central, the number could spell trouble for the current UDP area representative. Apart from a very low voter turnout, only 792, the Elections and Boundaries Department reported, the UDP chairman only won by 20 votes over the PUP chairman candidate there.

When the general elections are called, the voters in Ladyville and Hattieville will be a major deciding factor in the result. Both villages were traditionally PUP strongholds, which the UDP captured when the red tide came in 2008 that swept the PUP from power.

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