Thursday, April 18, 2024

San Pedro UDP declines to participate in 2024 Municipal Election mayoral debate; regardless, organizers will hold forum

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Despite attempts to organize a public mayoral debate on February 22nd between incumbent Mayor Gualberto ‘Wally’ Nuñez (People’s United Party – PUP) and mayoral candidate Wilfred Alamilla (United Democratic Party – UDP), the debate, organized by The San Pedro Sun and Reef TV/Radio was reevaluated after Alamilla declined to participate, stating that he preferred to reach his constituency in a door-to-door campaign. Mayor Nuñez accepted the invitation to debate. This is the second time in the history of mayoral debates on the island that the UDP has declined to participate.

Mayor Gualberto ‘Wally’ Nuñez

In an effort to encourage the democratic process of public elections, the organizers then invited Town Council candidates from both parties to debate, with a deadline to commit to participating by February 14th. To date (February 15th), neither party has done so. Now, with rumors of new mayoral candidates running as Independents, the organizers are discussing how to proceed with this forum. They are determined to give those willing to speak a public platform. Plans are still in place for the evening of February 22nd. Readers will be informed via www.sanpedrosun.com and Reef TV/Radio as soon as plans are finalized.

Wilfredo Alamilla

Twelve years ago, The San Pedro Sun and Reef TV/Radio joined forces to coordinate the county’s first mayoral debate in 2012, hosting UDP mayoral candidate Daniel ‘Danny’ Guerrero, PUP mayoral candidate Conchita Flota, and Independent mayoral candidate Melanie Paz. The historical debate set a new precedent for the democratic process of public elections and was wildly popular with the community. The two media houses hosted a second mayoral debate in 2015, and two Standard Bearer debates in February 2012 and October 2015 in San Pedro and Caye Caulker. The Sun also hosted Village Council debates in Caye Caulker.
During the 2018 municipal elections, The San Pedro Sun and Reef TV/Radio organizers invited incumbent UDP mayoral candidate Daniel Guerrero and PUP mayoral candidate André Pérez to debate. Although Pérez confirmed his attendance, Guerrero did not respond, and later went on record that he categorically would not participate in the debate. In response, organizers stated, “Over the last six years, we have worked hard to bring a platform to the people where they had the opportunity to hear candidates discuss and debate important topics; this is a vital part of the democratic process, we had received many questions from the public that deserved to be answered by the candidates, such as transparency, fiscal responsibility, sustainable development, healthcare, traffic, and pollution. Our goal was to allow the people to ask these questions; unfortunately, that won’t happen now. Just as we made history with the first mayoral debate in 2012, this too will be one for the history books. It feels like our hard work for political progress on the island has taken a step back.” These sentiments still stand today.

File Photo of Mayoral Debate

During the 2020 General Elections, the organizers did not host a debate due to COVID-19 restrictions. During the 2021 Municipal Elections, again observing health protocols, candidates answered questions posted on The Sun Pedro Sun website on March 2, 2021, instead of an in-person mayoral discussion.
The Sun will post updates on the 2024 debate/forum as soon as they are available. Voting is essential to popular representation, and island residents are encouraged to exercise this privilege on Election Day, March 6, 2024.

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