Last week Sunday, the UDP's Port Loyola Convention was as hot as a general election - and this weekend's Freetown Division promises to be the same. It's a three way race and the frontrunners are considered to be the current Standard Bearer Dr. Carla Barnett and newcomer OJ Elrington. As Jules Vasquez found out, their campaigns are a study in contrasts:…

Jules Vasquez reporting
When we met OJ Elrington and his campaign team yesterday afternoon - they were in the heart of the Belama area - rolling 15 deep, with a former standard bearer, flags and even a box booming his ads.

OJ Elrington, UDP Aspirant for Freetown
"We're very confident because I think that we've put in the necessary work - we've connected with the people in this constituency. I think that we have been able to deliver on our promises to the people in this constituency and therefore I'm very confident that I will be successful this week Sunday."

Carla Barnett on the other hand came to our studio. She says she's not into the scenery:

Dr. Carla Barnett, UDP Aspirant for Freetown
"I am not the hype. I would say I am the working on the ground kind of person."

Jules Vasquez, reporter
"I told you your opponent have opted to do something on the street in Belama and with his crowd which is the standard way of doing these things in politics. You are a mass party, you appear with a crowd. You don't like that scenery?"

Dr. Carla Barnett, UDP Aspirant for Freetown
"It's not that. I do that when it's a national election, when you are going against the opposite party. But when you're in a convention and it's an internal decision for me it's a little bit much. I could bring out a crowd. But my crowd is right now sorting out arrangements and everything. For me to take them away from that it's counterproductive. It's just a different style."

Jules Vasquez, reporter
"Might you end up being a victim of your good graces, insofar as it's Minister Finnegan through Mr. Lindo who like to say we were playing by greens rules, but the other side was playing karate?"

Dr. Carla Barnett
"(Smiling) I don't know. We will see on Sunday."

We will see a whole lot on Sunday. It's also a showdown between Patrick Faber and John Saldivar:

Jules Vasquez, reporter
"John Saldivar supports Dr. Barnett. Patrick Faber supports you. How will this rivalry for leadership in the UDP factor into Sunday's convention?"

OJ Elrington, UDP Aspirant for Freetown
"The fact is that he is a person who has not only because it is convention time in this constituency, he is person who has gone above and beyond to ensure that people in this constituency benefit from the goods and the services in the ministry in which he is the minister."

Jules Vasquez, reporter
"How has that larger power struggle within the UDP been influencing the campaign?"

Dr. Carla Barnett
"It hasn't influence the campaign directly in the way I have gone about doing what I need to do. I haven't brought it in. My campaign is not about who is going to be the leader of the party. My campaign is about who is going to be the representative in Freetown. Yes, Minister Saldivar has endorse me, so to speak. Although we are not as I say - we're not into the big campaign ads. No we are not doing that. I've kept that away from my discussion on the ground with people. We talk about the issues on the ground in Freetown."

A contrast in styles in every way possible - and that may be in no small part because this is a contest between a man and a woman:

Jules Vasquez, reporter
"You know that politics is brutal game, whose code is defined by men."

Dr. Carla Barnett
"Yes it is and it's a strange thing sometimes as a woman going into politics, because you are expected to operate in a particular kind of way. But it's not the way women normally operate and the reason that I want people to vote for me is because I am capable. Nit because I am a woman - that I am a woman is added, but at the core it has to be about capabilities."

Jules Vasquez, reporter
"How would you answer the criticism that in politics we need people like Dr. Barnett, but in fact in politics we need highly educated people who have a broad range of skills? You are an educated person as well, but she has the additional bonus of being a woman and more women need to be in politics. How would you answer the criticism that it's Dr. Barnett who is the right person for the job both optically and actually?"

OJ Elrington
"I think that all times we must get the best candidate to lead. It matters not sex. While I wish that we would have a lot more women involved at the highest level in politics in Belize and I wish to see many other women in the House. I think that at all times we must examine the merits and the demerits of the candidate in the specific division which we talk about and while I believe that there is a place for Dr. Barnett in government. However, I don't think that it is as the area representative for the Freetown Division."

Lee Mark Chang
"If Freetown doesn't recognized a good talent, a hard worker for the division - then Freetown doesn't want anything!"

And while the sex of the candidates may be the major difference, the career trajectory may be another factor. OJ Elrington is just starting out. Dr Barnett risks being rejected at the poll a second time:

Jules Vasquez, reporter
"Now you face a convention which may be a defining moment, insofar as it's win or go home. Explain to me how you see it?"

Dr. Carla Barnett
"I have done a lot in my life. My goal is to do what I do which is serve the people who I work for. If it is that the people of Freetown don't want me, who am I to quarrel with them. I can tell you that what I find on the ground is that people do want me to be their area representative."

Jules Vasquez, reporter
"A critic might say that Dr. Carla Barnett has a lifetime of a high level of public service, holding public office, holding senior positions. Who are you? You are a newcomer. You don't have a track record like Dr. Barnett."

OJ Elrington
"What I have had is a track record of service to the people and to the community and therefore I think that is the most important ingredient to success in any political campaign."

Now it is left to the voters as the UDP try to get on track in a division it has not held since the early 90's:

Lee Mark Chang
"In terms of our Sunday strategy is to make sure we bring out our supporters, our voters and make sure that we have a very peaceful convention."

The third candidate is longtime UDP Freetown campaigner and television sports personality Freddy Cantiliano. We will of course have full coverage of the convention on Monday's news.

Channel 7