The date for the municipal elections has not yet been set but the political parties have already embarked on their campaign for that event. Almost a month ago the ruling United Democratic Party introduced its Mayoral candidate and councilor slate. This week the opposition People’s United Party presented two slates from which its supporters will choose come Saturday. Love News spoke with both Mayoral candidates for the PUP, Sharole Saldivar and Karen Bodden, who told us why they are not only the better PUP candidate, but the best possible choice, whenever the elections are called. Saldivar based her platform on her past employment at City Hall as City Administrator. She says this equips her with the experience needed to run a needy Belize City.

Sharole Saldivar – PUP Mayoral hopeful
"I believe that the experience is something that I can boast about because I am familiar with the issues at City Hall, I am familiar with the issues affecting the residents of Belize City so I believe I can boast about it; I have already started. I think it would be best to be in a position where I can formulate polices to properly guide the Council to provide the services it should to the Belizean residents. I believe we need to look at creative ways of generating income. First of all we need to get the revenue that is due the Council that I believe is not being collected properly. I believe also we can use the provisions of the legislations, some legislation do provide for income generation; for example the Belize City Council Act provides for the establishment of a Utilities Coordination Unit, by using that we can generate income from businesses and authorities such as BWS for breaking up the streets, we can generate income.”

Marion Ali – Reporter
Are you suggesting imposing a new tax on the utility companies?

Sharole Saldivar – PUP Mayoral hopeful
“It would not be a new tax, it’s there already, it is just something that can be used I believe to generate more income; it’s not a new tax. They are providing a service and I don’t think that would trickle down to the consumers, if they break the street then I believe they would cooperate with the Council and contribute a fair amount of money to ensure that the streets are fixed.”

Marion Ali – Reporter
Well people have said, we don’t need a Council, we don’t need a Mayor because the administrators and managers at City hall can do the job.

Sharole Saldivar – PUP Mayoral hopeful
“I could understand that sentiment because people are disappointed and that is what I keep hearing when I go on the street visiting with delegates and meeting other residents of Belize City. As I said earlier, they are tired of empty promises so I propose to do something differently, to work within six months I guarantee that you will see the effect of my work.”

But Karen Bodden feels her background as a guidance counselor and teacher, coupled with her idea to cope with the financial constraints makes her the only choice for Belize City residents.

Karen Bodden – PUP Mayoral hopeful
“I think because I come not only with skills but also with knowledge because I spent years working in the trenches, I spent years working with people who are suffering terribly because of neglect, neglect of property where they live, neglect of the homes in which they live. So I come with that knowledge and I come with a knowledge coupled with compassion, because I want to make a different. I am not just taking political rhetoric I don’t believe in rhetoric I believe it is time for us to work and that is why I think I am the better candidate.”

Marion Ali – Reporter
But your competitors will say as well that they come with a lot of whatever background they have. But what you don’t come with is the “monetary backing” that the city needs.

Karen Bodden – PUP Mayoral hopeful
“I have heard that said over and over and I don’t really share that view because I have studied other societies, for example I went on a trip to Brazil and when I saw what could be done with people power, it had very little to do with the monetary, it starts with people and that is my plan, we being with people. If you put people at the forefront and that movement is viable, people buy into your vision and they start cooperating and they contribute in kind, you don’t have to just get contribution in money.”

Marion Ali – Reporter
There are miles and miles of Belize City streets, it is going to take millions of dollars that not even the private sector has because of the whole climate of the economics, the global recession and the list goes on, how do you propose to fix Belize City Streets?

Karen Bodden – PUP Mayoral hopeful
“We come right back to people, if you look at the street that is being repaired right now between Scotia Bank and BTL office and that is an ideal example of what can be accomplished if we have a plan in place and we have someone who can mobilize people. If you notice that project is being funded by local businesses and also that it is providing jobs so it is answering on both levels, answering the social problems that keep starting us in the face that our young people are saying where are the jobs so through that project jobs are being provided and at the same time if you listen to the interviews that some of you did with the guys who were working on the street, the level of self esteem that came just from that project is saying to me that if I can tap into that self esteem I can get other streets repaired. I don’t think I can do it, I know I can do it, because over the years that I have done different things in my career, I have been acquiring skills of different types, not just knowledge but skills that I have been putting to use and those are the skills that are needed in City Hall. It is not so much about who has the most degrees or the most accolades but it is about who has the kind of skills that are necessary to put the strategies and the systems in place that will make City Hall work.’

The PUP Convention is scheduled for Saturday at Saint Mary’s Parish Hall on North Front Street.

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