In the municipal elections countdown, there are only five more days to March fourth. Today, we headed west to Benque Viejo del Carmen where a councilor is aspiring for the mayoral seat which has been in the U.D.P. corner for fifteen years. His contender on the blue corner is a well-known educator who says there is urgent need for new vision and energy in the western-most town. Unfortunately, the U.D.P. candidate wasn’t available to talk with us and after various attempts; we proceeded to meet with the P.U.P. mayoral hopeful. Andrea Polanco reports.
Andrea Polanco, Reporting
With just days away from the municipal elections, the U.D.P. and P.U.P. camps have already completed their house to house campaigning in the western-most municipality of Benque Viejo Del Carmen. The streets are coloured with red and blue, with flags flying high and signs posted prominently at business places and even homes. So it appears that the candidates have done their ground work. For PUP mayoral candidate, new comer to the political scene, Alfred Kuylen, his bid for the leadership of his town is based on a single premise.
Alfred Kuylen, P.U.P. Mayoral Candidate
“I have been here just seeing my town go, but the prosperity hasn’t come here. With respect to what we aspire, I would like a change. I honestly would, and that’s the reason why I am here. I believe that my town has been left behind.”
Challenging Kuylen is Heraldo Rancharan who was unable to talk with us today. He has a served as a town councilor, and is now seeking higher seat. The Traffic Department employee, has in recent months, as indicated by his social media pages, been on the ground with Benquenos and at the center of the new developments in the town. And with Benque being a “red town” since 2000, it would seem that Kuylen’s bid may be the toughest. But he says he knows the problems and will solve them.
“We have problems with health. We have a clinic, that is true, but if a mother has a problem with having her children, she cannot have it in Benque because we don’t have a maternity ward. There are other issues, very difficult issues. We have a garbage disposal problem because it isn’t well organized. We have a problem of job creation. A project was started by other people and nobody has done anything about it. It’s just recently, a few months, the U.D.P. has been in power for fifteen years and just recently they started all these projects.”
And to help Kuylen address some of the challenges is a team of councilor candidates of Victor Mendez, Edgar Cocom, Juan Salas, Antonio Chajeda, Araceli Colocha Martinez, and Jorge Iglesias. With most of the team new to politics, Kuylen believes they are going in with a new vision and energy that is lacking. If elected, Kuylen says his strategy is clear.
“Some of the projects, first of all, is get things running. We want to see where we stand and what the accumulated debts are. Then we need to develop a program that will provide employment over a period of time to towns’ people.”
“Should a P.U.P. Town Council be elected on Wednesday, how you think you’d be able to manage the affairs of your town, if you don’t get the full support from central government, what’s your plan going in?”
“Yes. That’s a possibility. We know that. We know how this administration, works. If you are not with them, you are not in. I think that the resources that the town gets should be enough handle the day by day, business. It is true that we need the central government and the general elections are coming. I believe a government stands with its people first and not just its party. I think this is where leadership comes in. I believe when you speak to people, you can get things done.”
But to get things done, Kuylen says he wants Benquenos to go to the polls on March fourth.
“I would like to ask Benquenos to not be afraid, to make the right choice; to ensure that whatever choice they make is for the benefit for us all, not just party. Every Benqueno should count. It is important that they realize this because it determines which path we will follow in the future. I want Benqueno to know that I am a very proud Benqueno and I want them to know that we can work together. I thank them for their support.”
Reporting for News Five, I am Andrea Polanco.