San Pedro Gears Up for Elections 2015
In San Pedro, twenty one candidates, including three mayoral, are running in the upcoming March fourth elections. It is the first time on the island that three slates have been nominated. Currently, the town council is in the hands of the governing party, but the race is getting particularly heated in the island where there is no shortage of signs on lamp posts and banners. Tonight, Duane Moody looks at the three who aspire to sit on the mayor’s seat.
Duane Moody, Reporting
The municipal elections for 2015 are exactly nineteen days away and the political machinery across party lines have been cranked into full gear. On San Pedro, the current town council is represented by one P.U.P. councilor and six U.D.P.s including Mayor Daniel Guerrero. That municipality for the past twelve years has been elected under a red banner and according to the incumbent, he and his slate will recapture all seven seats.
Daniel Guerrero, Incumbent U.D.P. Mayoral Candidate, San Pedro
“There are several achievements. I can tell you that infrastructure is the biggest one where we have been paving a lot of streets here in downtown and thanks to the prime minister, himself, we can almost finalize the three miles of paved road going up north. It is something huge for tourism, especially for the hotel industry and tourism. But apart from that, San Pedro Town Council has been investing huge monies when it comes to safety, education…you just name it and health. We have been all around and we have touched every institution that exists on the island, N.G.O.s, you name it. So we are not only infrastructure, but we are doing all the social work. What we are aiming to do is get a healthy society for our grandchildren.”
“So if re-elected, it is just about continuing what you’ve already started?”
“Yes I did mention that yesterday. I would prefer to say a continuation of the projects that are on. I would like to see them finalized and yes, new projects will kick in. We have good ideas of what to do—I would not like to mention right now—but we have good projects for San Pedro.”
Doctor Giovanni Solorzano, who has his private clinic and pharmacy in San Pedro, has been living on the island for the past twenty-six years. Doctor Giovanni ran against current area rep., Manuel Heredia Junior, back in 2012 for the general elections and for the past eighteen months, has been on the ground campaigning for his mayoral candidacy. For Doctor Giovanni, the support for the P.U.P. on Nomination Day this past Wednesday was a testament that the administration will be changing colors.
Doctor Giovanni Solorzano, P.U.P. Mayoral Candidate, San Pedro
“The electorate has been clamoring for change as you said and it was demonstrated yesterday during nomination day. Yesterday, we did not rent a crowd because we do not have the money they have, but we have the intelligence, we have the plan, we have a vision to bring change to the island. We have been the party who has presented a manifesto—a clear—and they like to say it is too long. Yes it is long because I am methodic, we are methodic, and we want to bring change in every particular area that falls under the responsibility of the San Pedro Town Council. So that is why our manifesto is very well-written, it is very well-described; it might not be perfect, but I invite everybody to help us to prepare for the change. San Pedro has been growing a lot, but it has been growing without proper planning. So we have people from the mainland who come to work. The children stay on the mainland and the husband and wife come to work on San Pedro, but they cannot bring their children because there is no space for the children to come to school. That causes problems, causes resentment of the kids against their parents. So we need to build another primary school; we need to build another secondary school on the island. So all of those are the reasons that made me decide I want to serve my island. And we need to continue to grow, but we need to have sustainable tourist development. We need to grow properly with proper planning.”
Like Belmopan, San Pedro also has three full slates that will be contesting the municipal elections come March fourth. V.I.P. Bobby Lopez and his six councilor candidates for the first time will be seeking votes in that municipality. Their manifesto focuses on several issues, particularly the environment.
Robert ‘Bobby’ Lopez
Robert ‘Bobby’ Lopez, VIP Mayoral Candidate, San Pedro
“In 2012 as you know, I ran out here against Manuel Heredia for the constituency and having done that, the seed was planted. Three hundred and thirty-six votes, I believe. 2015, I actually had an agreement with my wife not to run again, but she said Bobby, I know yo di burn up inside; just do it. But what really got me is that as I walk this island, I see the degradation…deterioration socially, environmentally and in so many aspects. And nobody is paying any attention to it. It is like turning a blind eye to a problem, hoping that it will go away. We are looking at establishing unions out here—unionizing the council, unionizing the construction workers, the hospitality industry. Setting a minimum wage of seven dollars per hour because you can’t survive on no three or four dollars an hour on this island. Those are the things we are looking for. Improving the housing conditions…so many of that sixty-five percent don’t have a lot. They live in a room raising families, sharing a bathroom, five rooms to a bathroom; divided with such a simple plywood. We have to raise the conditions. So I call it also a social justice campaign because I want to look out for the working class who deserve to enjoy and to live on a beautiful environment and community.”