The next round of municipal elections is exactly one month away. And while it doesnít normally attract the level of campaign fanfare and prominence as the general elections, these local elections are important as they directly impact the quality of life of those who live in urban areas.† According to the Elections and Boundaries Department, as of December 2020, there are ninety-two thousand eight hundred and thirty-eight registered voters across the nine municipalities. But registration was completed on January twenty-fifth, so that number is expected to increase.† In the 2018 Municipal Elections, there were one hundred and fourteen thousand five hundred and seventy-four registered voters, which put the December 2020 count short of twenty-one thousand seven hundred and thirty-six registered voters.† This is a result of the cleaning up of the votersí list during the re-registration process.† In the 2018 municipal elections, some sixty-five thousand five hundred and sixty-nine voters went to the polls; thatís a fifty-seven point twenty-three percent voter turnout. Itís left to be seen if the pandemic will have any bearing at all on this yearís voter turnout.† The U.D.P. has named all its candidates, and the P.U.P. still has two remaining slates to be named in the coming days. Hereís a look at the slates that have already been published.
Andrea Polanco, Reporting
The 2021 Municipal Election is one month away. Itís an important election for many reasons. For voters in the cities and towns, there are real consequences because they are selecting the candidates who will make important decisions and implement projects that range from infrastructure to access to public spaces, social programs and other development projects. So, these are concerns that should be at the front of the votersí minds as they prepare to head to the polls to select their municipal leaders on March third.
In the 2018 Municipal Elections, the Peopleís United Party won three full councils Ė in Belize City, Orange Walk Town and Corozal Ė and they picked up one councilor seat in Dangriga on a majority red council. So, in 2021, will the P.U.P.ís massive success at the polls back in November translate to wins across the countries for their municipal teams? Or will voters go out to polls to send a message to the ruling party Ė less than four months after they have been elected? Itís left to be seen on March third Ė but both political parties are fielding slates to contest this election.
In Belize City Ė the current P.U.P. Mayor is contesting his seat once again. Mayor Bernard Wagner was endorsed as the PUPís candidate, and he will face off with newcomer to electoral politics and media personality Orson Picart for the U.D.P.† Wagnerís slate of ten councilors includes returning councilors Micah Goodin, Albert Vaughn, and Allan Pollard and also introduces new faces to local politics like cyclist Kaya Cattouse and former president of the Chinese Association Edmund Kwan. Picartís slate is made up of mostly newcomers Ė a sprinkle of familiar faces like Doctor Alain Gonzalez and Kenny Morgan.† The new U.D.P. councilor candidates in Belize City include former journalist Shane Williams and martial arts instructor Leon Guild.
In Belmopan Ė it will be educator versus educator for the mayoral seat. Former councilor turn mayoral candidate Jackie Burns is leading the U.D.P.ís slate in the capital city. Burns, an educator by profession, has six councilor candidates which include returning councilors former superintendent of police Louise Willis and Paul Chun, as well new faces to the political scene in Belmopan such as Victor Orellana and Leslie Zelaya. Burnsí slate will contest the election against with long-time teacher Sharon Palacio for the P.U.P.† Palacio, a well-known community activist known for her work in arts and culture, also has slate of several newcomers but well-known in Belmopan, which includes radio correspondent Pauline Soberanis Tillett; nurse Hope Amadi and communications manager Nikki Augustine.
In the town of Benque Viejo del Carmen Ė the P.U.P. slate is headed by mayoral candidate Jorge Rosales, while the U.D.P. is being represented by mayoral hopeful Miguel Guerra.
In San Ignacio and Santa Elena, Mayor Earl Trapp is running for the U.D.P. to defend his seat against mayoral candidate is Ramon Quiroz of the P.U.P.
In Corozal, Rigo Vellos is the incumbent and he will defend his seat for the P.U.P. against the U.D.P.ís mayoral hopeful Roger Arana.
In San Pedro, pilot Wally Nunez is running as the P.U.P.ís mayoral candidate who is hoping to unseat the U.D.P. who has been in municipal power for six terms. Nunez is going up against the U.D.P.ís mayoral candidate Ruben Gonzalez.
In Orange Walk Town, Ladric Sheppard, a councilor on the current P.U.P. town council and well-known champion of sports in the town, is hoping that the voters will elect him to be the next mayor and keep a blue town council. The U.D.P.ís candidate is Orlando Castillo.
In Dangriga, the U.D.P.ís incumbent mayor Francis Humphries is defending his seat. The P.U.P. will elect its mayoral candidate this coming weekend for the culture capital.
The P.U.P. will also host a convention in Punta Gorda this weekend to decide who will run against the U.D.P.ís Hansel Warrior for Mayor.