Saturday, June 15, 2024

Questions from the public for Mayoral candidates in San Pedro town

Share

With the municipal elections taking place this Wednesday, March 3rd, The San Pedro Sun shares answers from our Mayoral Candidates to questions solicited from our readers. Below is the response from both candidates. Please note the submitted responses have not been edited in any way.

Mayoral Candidate Name: Gualberto ‘Wally’ Nuñez
Representing Party: People’s United Party

Questions from the public:

Parking is an issue downtown, and the island is over-run with cars and golf carts. How do you plan to control our growing traffic problem?

Particularly, with downtown San Pedro, an assessment will be done to implement stricter parking regulations on the 3 main streets to allow for an easier flow of traffic.

Provide incentives for existing businesses to create parking spaces and enforce new constructions to cater for customer parking.

Please note that with the new administration under the new government at the helm of the traffic department, all rental and large vehicle importations have been halted until the situation can be fully assessed. Already, the situation is contained awaiting a solution and decongesting plans for downtown and other areas prone to heavy traffic and parking congestion.

What is your position on sustainable development and protecting mangroves and other vital habitats on and around the island? Projects like Cayo Grande and Cayo Rosario are two examples.

A healthy balance is needed between the economy and conservation. None can exist without the other. We must keep in mind that our fragile ecosystems forms the backbone of our Belizean economy with natural tourist attractions at the forefront. We would not have an economy, as covid has shown, without tourism. Sustainable fishing too depends on the protection of our waters and mangroves. Therefore, our nature sites and marine attractions must be preserved for both visitors and generations of residents to enjoy. Legislation to protect these are already in place. With the political will to enforce these laws, we can ensure a booming economy with the highest respect for our environment.

How will you address the excess of rental carts on the island?

This issue has already been addressed. Through the newly elected Area Rep for BRS Hon. Andre Perez and the reshuffling of the traffic committee, the importation of large vehicles and rentals have already been halted until the situation can be addressed. A complete check of existing permits and active vehicles must be done before moving forward.

Island residents have suffered economically over the last year due to the pandemic. What opportunities can you offer for them to be productive and provide for their families? What are your plans to grow the local economy?

Work along with BTB to market San Pedro Town. We are to build a website that will promote our island.

There are also organizations like BTIA that we must assist in all their marketing efforts and concerns to keep San Pedro as the top visitors’ choice. Countrywide and internationally.

Create a Low Cost Food Program for properly vetted low income families specifically targeting single parents and the unemployed.

Programs and organizations that have been assisting through food and pantry programs should be highlighted so they can receive further funding to continue their humanitarian efforts.

Provide discount and payment plans on trade license and liquor license to allow businesses to grow.

If you become the mayor, will you audit the Town Council, and if there are inconsistencies, will you advocate for accountability? 

Absolutely. The people of this community are hardworking and the law holds and demands they be accountable and transparent. Our leaders should be held in the same manner. We deserve to know how our funds and assets have been managed or mismanaged. Any misappropriation should be dealt with by the proper authorities. If we make this a trend, this and any future government will be transparent. We have to make accountability a trend!

Transparency is essential to good government. What measures will you take to inform the community of Town Council business and budgets?

The same open door policy that has been promised but never implemented.

Access to council information is important. We should not wait for people to request it. Published reports and a website where the relevant information can be accessed is important. For both the people and the opposition. Community meetings to present these reports with a time for people to ask questions and get clarifications is important.

These are the things currently lacking and directly relate to the current problems of transparency and accountability.

Ambergris Caye generates a tremendous amount of tax revenue for the government. What will you do to ensure we see more of those tax dollars spent on the island?

We will review the current laws with a focus on prioritizing more autonomy for our island. For example, looking at a way for us to have a greater say in the approving of dock permits. We will also work with the different governmental departments to ensure we receive our share of services and development. We already have a great working relationship with our Area Rep and Prime Minister. They continue to assert that San Pedro deserves better and together, we will see this through.

What plans do you have for improving the roads in San Pedro?

We plan to pave roads with the addition of proper drainage. Proper repairs, upgrades and the upkeep of roads to facilitate the flow of traffic for the busiest streets to those leading into and out of the smaller communities and areas on the outskirts of town.

The island has a severe problem with the improper disposal of garbage. Do you plan to manage trash better and establish recycling programs for glass, plastic, metal, and organic matter? Will you implement fines for illegal dumping?

We have to implement a culture of reuse versus recycling. This alone reduces the amount of material we should recycle.

Second to that, recycling for the already existing garbage is key. Through education and outreach we can have our residents separate material at the level of the household. This, complemented by a prompt garbage collection system, solves the bulk of our current garbage problems on Ambergris Caye.

We must also take into consideration that there are many who have made recycling a living. This is healthy, important and essential for our garbage solutions. Identifying these people and making them accessible would help their efforts, our disposal needs and the garbage problem on a whole.

This is the way to finally “keep La Isla Bonita clean!”

How do you plan to hold elected councillors accountable for their duties and responsibilities?

Progress reports. The same manner in which we will report our finances, our elected councillors will need to report on the progress they make with their portfolios. At the end of their term we should all be familiar with their final report. Community meetings, the media and social media would be the platforms for these reports. This would engage residents of all ages and backgrounds. Like at school, a mid-term report serves to show.

The PUP believes that after 18 years of UDP controlling the affairs of the town, they have apparently failed to look after the residents’ interests, thus, it’s time for a change. According to them, their PUP 7 is ready to bring that change and work hand in hand with the people of San Pedro for their own benefit. The PUP pledges transparency, accountability and delivering on some of the most anticipated projects in the community that will see the rehabilitation of roads/streets, economic growth among other programs to bring back the island’s spirit and economy.

 

Mayoral Candidate Name:  Ruben’ Rux’ Gonzalez
Representing Party: United Democratic Party

Questions from the public:

Parking is an issue downtown, and the island is over-run with cars and golf carts. How do you plan to control our growing traffic problem?

As mayor of San Pedro our plan for traffic control is to enforce the parking at the sacachispa area where our current town council has allocated the alleviation.  We will support the current board of Traffic with their moratorium on Golf cart rentals to alleviate and control traffic.  We will implement in front street parking meters on specific areas to facilitate businesses with the flow of traffic.  Also, we will be making sure all rental vehicles are off the streets and using parking space unless paying dealership license to display their golf carts.

What is your position on sustainable development and protecting mangroves and other vital habitats on and around the island? Projects like Cayo Grande and Cayo Rosario are two examples.

Our sustainable development for protecting the mangroves is to create and enforce the legislative laws for the environment.   We are pro for the environment and will fight against any harm to our natural resources.

How will you address the excess of rental carts on the island?

All we can do with the of the excess of rental carts is to first lobby with central government and try to make sure our traffic department is returned to the San Pedro Town Council so that better decisions can be made and the reduction of the golf cart rentals be address more efficiently and allow the use of the municipality to make the decisions on all vehicle entries, etc.

Island residents have suffered economically over the last year due to the pandemic. What opportunities can you offer for them to be productive and provide for their families? What are your plans to grow the local economy?

Our first aim is to brand our island and plan a vigorous marketing campaign to ensure the promotion of San Pedro, our isla bonita, with the inclusion of all stakeholders and make sure we start virtual expos and increase the exposure of the island.  This will help with our tourism and will make sure that our economy slowly but surely increases.

If you become the mayor, will you audit the Town Council, and if there are inconsistencies, will you advocate for accountability?  A government audit is done every year and is available at the town council. However, when I become mayor, we will be conducting an independent audit and will make a public statement on all findings and how our council stands at the time I enter as Mayor.  As stated in our manifesto, we will be conducting public consultations on major projects and major capital acquisitions.

Transparency is essential to good government. What measures will you take to inform the community of Town Council business and budgets?

As Mayor, I will be doing Quarterly statements on the position and focus on our budget system for the town council.   This will help in making our transparency be as clear as the public is demanding.

Ambergris Caye generates a tremendous amount of tax revenue for the government. What will you do to ensure we see more of those tax dollars spent on the island?

Unfortunately, We in the municipality cannot do nothing with taxes as GST, Business Tax, contract withholding tax, PAYE Taxes and Hotel taxes as those are controlled by Central government.  However, as your mayor I will lobby with our Area representative to help us be a voice together to central government and make sure we are included in their annual budgets for the sustainable development of the community.

What plans do you have for improving the roads in San Pedro?

We will be implementing an Area Rep system in all of the community low lying areas and will have a councilor as a representative where concerns of our people will be heard and the work will be carried out at the most promptly manner possible.

The island has a severe problem with the improper disposal of garbage. Do you plan to manage trash better and establish recycling programs for glass, plastic, metal, and organic matter? Will you implement fines for illegal dumping?

We will implement a proper training for the disposal of garbage to help facilitate pick ups and make sure the streets are not dirty after the garbage run passes by.   We will also be enforcing the fines for illegal dumping around the island.   We will help and encourage the recycling programs and the recycling companies that already exist in the island.

How do you plan to hold elected councilors accountable for their duties and responsibilities?

We will have semi monthly meetings and make sure that each councilor ensures the projects they propose and help them carry it out if any obstacles are encountered.  We have this unity and inclusion with our team that we are all going to be involved some way or the other in the projects to help them carry it out as a team for the betterment of the community.

For years there has been talk of a Master Plan for the development, zoning, and infrastructure of the island. Will this be one of your priorities? If so, how do you plan on making it a reality?

There is a master plan and the implementation and approvals to make it legal is the missing piece.  However, we plan to make sure that this is carried out and updated to benefit our now isla bonita infrastructure and accommodate all our stakeholders.  Our priority is our people and for now being in a pandemic this will not be our first priorities but on of our MUST DO before our term is up.

What is your position on the building of new docks, especially in populated areas?

We will issue a moratorium on all Docks for our isla bonita.   We will be issuing all dock owners to a reminder of the use of docks and the public use of these docks.   We will not be giving any recommendations on such docks.   We will also, with the help of our area representative lobby with central government to acquire from the ministry of natural resources that the fees and monies remain in our municipality.   With the revenue collected from these docks, we will be able to do many projects and create penalties as far as complete demolition of a pier if there are pending fees or if fees are not paid.

Schools and healthcare are two things the island is in desperate need of. As the mayor, how can you work with Central Government to make these improvements on the island?

We plan to request help or acquire equipment that will help our polyclinic and make it fully equip, where only serious cases will be taken to Belize City.  We will help RRR responders as they are doing an amazing job here in the island and I would like to applaud them for that.   We will eventually, with the help of donors and other financing, we will make sure that our clinics are available 24 hours for emergency services.

 

On Election Day, polls will open at 7AM and close at 6PM. Voters in San Pedro will count with two polling stations. Voters with Surnames “A” through “I” will vote at the San Pedro High School. Meanwhile voters with Surnames “J” to “Z” will vote at the San Pedro Roman Catholic Primary School.

Read more

 

Please help support Local Journalism in Belize

For the first time in the history of the island's community newspaper, The San Pedro Sun is appealing to their thousands of readers to help support the paper during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 1991 we have tirelessly provided vital local and national news. Now, more than ever, our community depends on us for trustworthy reporting, but our hard work comes with a cost. We need your support to keep delivering the news you rely on each and every day. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Please support us by making a contribution.

Local News