Candidates officially nominated for Municipal Elections; will elected candidates present Financial Disclosure?

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

With the 2018 Municipal Elections less than two weeks away, aspiring candidates were officially nominated to run for office across the country on Wednesday, February 21st which is required under the Town Councils Act, Chapter 87 of the Laws of Belize and the applicable Regulations. In San Pedro Town, slates for both the People’s United Party (PUP) and the United Democratic Party (UDP) showed party pride, with parades of supporters leading to the Town Council where the candidates were nominated. Now that the race to Election Day has officially begun, if elected, the winning candidates have three months to file their declaration of financial affairs in accordance to the Laws of Belize under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Returning Officer Catherine Cumberbatch and Election Clerk Leodan Torres presided over the nomination in the municipality of San Pedro, where the 14 candidates were nominated by 21 registered votes from the Belize Rural South Constituency (BRS).

The first political party to take part in nominations was the PUP. Mayoral Candidate André Pérez, along with his six councilor candidates, Ruben Navidad, Ian Pou, Marina Kay, Danieli Aranda, Johnnia Duarte, and Undina ‘Dina’ Graniel led a parade from the Boca del Rio Park shortly after 10AM. Accompanied by themed music, the large crowd of supporters cheered for their nominees across the main streets of San Pedro Town.

Inside the SPTC building, the councilors were officially nominated. André Pérez was nominated by Lucilo Guerrero and Amador Gualberto Nuñez, Marina Graniel Kay was nominated by Maria Concepción Flota and Gerardo Reyes, Ian Pou was nominated by Ana Lopez and Martin Dawson, Undina “Dina” Graniel was nominated by Ulises Urizar and Miguel Samuel Caliz, Dianeli Aranda was nominated by Miguel Perez and Mara Tia Bina LLidubina Kumul, Ruben Navidad was nominated by Omar Arceo and Reymundo ‘Mundo’ Nuñez, and Johnnia Durante was nominated by Consuelo Nuñez and Luis Cesar Rivero.

 

Following the nomination process, Pérez took time to address his supporters. “I want to thank everyone for the support that they have given to the PUP 7 during our campaign time. We are ready to lead and transform this community into a place of peace. If you are ready for a change and tired of all the lies and corruption vote PUP 7 on March 7th,” said PUP, Mayoral Candidate André Pérez.

The UDP slate started their nomination parade later in the afternoon at around 1PM, beginning at the UDP headquarters on Barrier Reef Drive. The crowd of supporters dressed in red made their way across town core ending at the SPTC. Twice elected Mayor Daniel Guerrero led his councilor slate comprised of Gary Grief, Hector Alamilla, Ruben Gonzalez, Severo Guerrero Jr., Gabriel Nuñez, and Flora Ancona, who are all hoping for re-election.

The UDP slate was then officially nominated. Daniel Guerrero was nominated by Billy Leslie and Honorable Manuel Heredia Jr., Flora Ancona was nominated by Iyvette Ramirez and Carlos Barrientos, Gary Grief was nominated by Johnny Grief and Kristian Guerrero, Hector “Tito” Alamilla was nominated by Pablo Eco and Joseph Elijio, Gabriel “Gaby” Nuñez was nominated by Manuel Leiva and Richard Cordova, Severo Guerrero was nominated by Ricky Verde and Alberto Nuñez Jr, and Ruben Gonzalez was nominated by Elsa Paz and Ramon Guerrero.

Afterwards, Guerrero spoke to his supporters, stating “I want to thank everyone for their huge support that you keep giving us. There is no chance for the PUP to win elections in San Pedro Town. On March 7th, this town will turn red when we come out victorious. When the UDP say we are going to do something, we do it, we just don’t talk. Since the UDP got into power, San Pedro has transform into a better place as well as the entire country of Belize,” he further said “I also want to make it clear here, in front of everybody, that I’m not going to participate in the debate with André Pérez. The reason is because I don’t have nothing valuable to debate with him.”

While Municipal Elections are held every three years, it was not until 2007 that elected candidates were required by law to submit a Financial Disclosure. According to Part 3 of the Prevention of Corruption Act; Financial Disclosure, Section 10. (1) “A person in public life shall, in accordance with this Act, file with the Commission, a sworn declaration of assets, income and liabilities…” The law describes “persons in public life” as “(a) Members of the House of Representatives including the Speaker; (b) Members of the Senate including the President of the Senate; and (c) Members of local authorities (City Councils and Town Councils)”.

However, in the political history of San Pedro Town, only one candidate has ever done so, that candidate being previously elected PUP Councilor Gualberto “Wally” Nuñez in 2014. In the past, no other elected candidate has ever presented a declaration of financial affairs and this includes currently aspiring candidates for the UDP Daniel Guerrero and his six councilors. This election season marks Guerrero’s third aspirational political term, having been elected in 2012 and 2015. Aspiring Councilors Gabriel (Gaby) Nuñez and Severito Guerrero Jr. have also been in office for the past two terms, with the other candidates Gary Grief, Hector Alamilla, Ruben Gonzalez, and Flora Ancona having been elected into office for the first time in 2015.

Section 14. of the act states “(1) Where a person in public life fails to file a declaration under section 10 without reasonable cause or fails to furnish particulars under section 13, the Commission shall publish the fact in the Gazette and shall send a report to the Director of Public Prosecutions for further action.” The law goes on to say in Section 19. “(1) A person who, without reasonable cause, (a) fails to file with the Commission, a declaration which he is required to file in accordance with the provisions of this Act; (b) fails to give such information or explanation as the Commission may require under section 12 or 13; (c) fails to give such information as a Tribunal may require under section 15, commits a first offense and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not less than three thousand dollars. On a second or subsequent offense to a fine of not less than five thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a period of one year, or to both fine and imprisonment. (2) Without prejudice to subsection (1) above, every person who, without reasonable cause, (a) fails to file a declaration in accordance with the provisions of this Act; (b) has not yet filed his declaration in the previous year in accordance with the provisions of this Act; (c) fails to give such information or explanation as the Commission may require under section 12 or 13 within the time specified for submission; (d) fails to give such information as a Tribunal may require under section 15, is liable to pay to the Commission, an administrative fine of one hundred dollars for each day that the declaration or information or explanation, as the case may be, remains outstanding.” The San Pedro Sun was unable to confirm if any of these penalties have been applied to the current Town Council administration but confirmed that none have submitted a Financial Disclosure to the Integrity Commission.

The 2018 Municipal Elections will take place on Wednesday, March 7th at the San Pedro High School. Gates will open at 7AM, with only registered voters in the municipality of San Pedro Town being allowed to partake in the election process. All those exercising their right to vote are required to present a picture identification (Voter ID, Social Security Card or Passport) before entering their assigned voting station.

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