UDP deputy leadership convention gathers new momentum with women candidates
The ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) is about to enter a new era when its present leader, Prime Minister Dean Barrow, steps down and the party holds its leadership convention in February of next year.
Two area representatives, Collet’s Patrick Faber and Belmopan’s John Saldivar, have tossed their hats into the leadership ring and will attempt to capture the votes of a majority of delegates that will get one of them elected as the new UDP leader, the one who will lead the UDP in the next general elections scheduled for 2020.
In the race for First Deputy Leader, Tracy Taegar-Panton made history this week when she announced that she would run for the position of the UDP’s First Deputy Leader.
This is the first time a woman in Belize is aspiring to such a high office in a political party.
To become the UDP’s First Deputy Leader, Taeger-Panton, who is the area representative for the Albert constituency, will first have to defeat Corozal South West area representative Hugo Patt, who announced this week that he would also run for the First Deputy Leader post.
Belize Rural Central area representative Beverly Castillo announced today that she would run for the UDP’s Second Deputy Leadership post.
Today, also, Belize Rural South area representative Manuel Heredia, Jr., listed his name with the UDP Secretariat to run for the Second Deputy Leader post. Heredia will face off with Castillo, if no one else enters the race for the Second Deputy Leader post.
In a telephone interview today, we asked Taegar-Panton what made her decide to offer herself for such a powerful position in the UDP and she said that she had been asked by many of her supporters to get involved in the Central Executive of the party.
“I believe that I will add some value to the good work that we are already doing. Because of that groundswell of people asking me to get involved, I decided to do just that,” she said.
We asked her what kind of leader the UDP can expect if she is successful at the convention.
Taegar Panton replied, “What the UDP have had from me now is a leader that is inclusive, one that has a very strong work ethic, one that holds high her personal integrity and credibility.”
Taegar-Panton said that she “will champion the rights of women and young people to have a voice at the highest level of decision making.”
Taegar-Panton has declared neutrality in the leadership race between Faber and Saldivar. She explained: “It is my understanding that Minister Saldivar will be fielding a slate. I don’t know at this time whether Minister Faber will be fielding a slate. I understand that Minister Faber may consider running on his own merit.
“I feel that the need for women’s voices to be heard at the highest level of decision making is too important an issue, when we look at our demographics, when we look at voter turnout, when we look at the role women ought to play in decision making, I thought it was too important a decision to align with one leader or the other. I think these are general values and goals we have as a party. Whoever ascends as leader, and the leader will be determined by the votes of the delegates of the party, I am prepared to work with any of those leaders in advancing the party’s agenda, particularly as it relates to women and young people.”
We asked Taegar-Panton if she would direct her 15 delegates from the Albert constituency to vote in a particular way in the leadership convention and she said she believes the leadership should be chosen by the people who have chosen to make that decision, and that her delegates and also her committee felt that she should run independently.
She added, however, that her committee will hold discussions to determine what is being proposed by both leaders.
“Then we will decide how we will proceed, whether we will vote as a block or we will vote individually. We are not there as yet, because the convention is not until February,” Taegar-Panton said.Amandala