Early this month, the governing United Democratic Party (UDP) released a list of candidates aspiring to run in the 2020 General Elections. Island residents were surprised to learn that among the candidates was San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) Councillor Gary Greif who will be contesting the Belize Rural South (BRS) constituency. The seat is currently held by four-term Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Honourable Manuel Heredia Jr. Greif says that his main platform in representing BRS in Belmopan is to seek empowerment for the SPTC and the Caye Caulker Village Council, and for them to have more autonomy in their respective affairs.
Greif told The San Pedro Sun that as Area Representative, he will work for his constituency and demand from Central Government what the islands need. He spoke about the fees collected for each dock on the island, believing that jurisdiction should be given to both San Pedro and Caye Caulker to use this income for the betterment of its residents. Greif stated that he will push for most, if not all, government departments to have offices on the island, in particular, the Department of Environment. He is a strong advocate for the environment and sustainability and is against projects that could destroy it. “The process by which these projects are vetted and approved must change,” said Greif. “There must be representation from the community in the approval process.”
Greif claims that he comes from a political background, with many family members forming part of the UDP when the party was considered the ‘underdogs.’ He believes in his family’s support, and thus he is seeking a higher office in government. Greif stated that he has great respect for Minister Heredia but believes more can be done for BRS. “It’s not simply because of who I am, but because of the people willing to work with me and make San Pedro, Caye Caulker and the entire constituency more prosperous,” said Greif.
He describes his experience at the SPTC as educational, with learning more about how the local administration system works. He believes that he can apply such knowledge as an Area Representative for BRS. The Councillor stated that his contribution in the sanitation and traffic departments at the Town Council have benefited the island. He spoke about transparency in the Sanitation area, indicating that the monies collected for that department were used to increase staff and their fleet, in particular in obtaining new trash compactors. As for traffic, Greif said he was stringent on the importation of vehicles to the island, mainly the golf cart rental companies. Currently, he is still working on two pending projects, the implementation of a taxi drivers manual and the closing of Boca del Rio beach to vehicles. Greif pledges to serve his people regardless of which party is in power, and bring progress, more opportunities and fight corruption.
The Sun also caught up with Minister Heredia, who briefly noted said that he respected Greif’s decision to run for the constituency. He indicated he intends to continue working with his people and do what he has to do to keep his position as the Area Representative for Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye. Heredia is a seasoned politician who has been the UDP BRS Representative since 2003. He is confident that he will once again achieve re-election in the upcoming general elections.
Before they can officially run for the BRS office, a contested convention must be held. A date has yet to be announced for this event.