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Political Candidates Talk About Experience!

Severo Guerrero for UDP 7

Ambergris Today: What portfolio are you responsible for at the San Pedro Town Council? If re-elected, will you continue with the same portfolio?

Deputy Mayor Severo Guerrero: I have served as Deputy Mayor of San Pedro Town for the past three years. My portfolio included education and public relations. If re-elected, it all depends on the group whether they want me to continue serving as Deputy Mayor, but I’m willing to continue serving my community as their Deputy Mayor. The same applies for my portfolio of education and public relations. I have no problem continuing my work in that capacity for the Town Council.

Ambergris Today: As a Councilor, what have you accomplished during the past 3 years in office?

Deputy Mayor Severo Guerrero: During the past three years we have provided assistance to all schools on the island. We built two new classrooms for the San Pedro R.C. School and provided sand for many schools whose yard areas were affected by the rain. We also donated many school books and provided refurbishing for classrooms. I want to take this opportunity to thank the community and Mr. Jose Gomez for donating time and effort to the assistance provided to the schools. Mr. Gomez donated two hours every evening for the construction of the classrooms at the R.C. School.

Ambergris Today: How much time a week to you dedicate working for the office of the Town Council?

Deputy Mayor Severo Guerrero: I dedicate more time than the office requires. I give more than the two to three hours required per day. Even when I’m out of office, I still work for the Town Council, such as in cases when people visit me at my home asking for help. We never say no and always try to assist people as much as we can. If we cannot do it through the Town Council, then we see how we can assist them through Central Government.

Ambergris Today: What do you have to offer to the community of San Pedro?

Deputy Mayor Severo Guerrero: I have a lot of experience to offer the community. I have served twice in the office of the Town Council, my first term during 1994-97 when Manuel Heredia was Mayor and my recent three years as Deputy Mayor. I also offer my honesty, dedication, and will to work hard always for the community and the San Pedro Town Council.

Ambergris Today: Is it better when situations benefit your political party or the community at large? If a vital decision is at hand that would greatly benefit your community, but hurt your party politics, would you support in favor of the community or your party?

Deputy Mayor Severo Guerrero: The community at large, of course. I would always support in favor of my community because once we are elected, we are put into office to serve our community. Politics is over after election day!

Ambergris Today: What developments do you see in the near future for this island? Which developments concern you and which ones do you think are positive for the island?

Deputy Mayor Severo Guerrero: I see a lot of development taking place up north, more construction of buildings. I also see the cobblestoning of the streets, including Barrier Reef Drive. I have been a tour guide for the past 20 years and most of the visitors that I talked to say that if the island gets big buildings over 3 storeys, it’s just like being at home and they would not come back. So I’m against such buildings that are over 3 storey in height. I also see problems with the way Housing and Planning allows construction of buildings using every inch of space in the yard. Something has to be done to positively affect these regulations with Housing and Planning.

Ambergris Today: What’s your suggestion for the Town Council to get a higher subvention from Central Government? At present, we are only getting $69,000 a year, how much would be fair for San Pedro?

Deputy Mayor Severo Guerrero: Sixty-nine thousand dollars a year in subvention is too small an amount for our island. We always need more money, considering we are a growing community and that we contribute a whole lot of revenue to Central Government. The Town Council also provided a lot of assistance to the community, so it is only fair that government provides much more than the $69,000 a year in help.

Ambergris Today: Is it true that you objected to the Lagoon Street reclamation project and seawall? If so, why?

Deputy Mayor Severo Guerrero: I was never against it, but I did not like the way it was being done. The previous town council never approached the residents of the area where the project was being done to explain the project to them. My dock got damaged and my brother’s dock got cut too. The then Mayor and councilor Mel Spain brought a police officer with them to damage our docks before even explaining what the project was about. We had a lot of investment in our docks and they got damaged. That’s why I was not in favor of the project when it started because we were never informed about what was happening.

Ambergris Today: Why should people vote for your political party, and secondly, why should they vote for you?

Deputy Mayor Severo Guerrero: People should vote for my party because I think that people who do not see what our party has achieved in the past 3 years are simply playing blind. We have accomplished a lot and this is reality, it is here, and you can touch it, like the cobblestone streets and the Boca del Rio bridge. The PUP only promises, but they do not deliver- theirs is just promises not reality. People should vote for me because I’m a hard-working man, dedicated to my town, and have served my community in various organizations such as the Caribeña Cooperative, the Lions Club, the R.C. School’s Parents Teachers Association, and the San Pedro Town Council. I have always served with the honesty, dedication, and hard-work that were taught to me by my parents!

Mel Spain for PUP 7

Ambergris Today: What portfolio are you responsible for at the San Pedro Town Council? If re-elected, will you continue with the same portfolio?

Councilor Mel Spain: My current portfolio for the term 2003-2006 has been town zoning, planning and project development. This correlates with the position of Chairperson of the Ambergris Caye Planning Committee, which I currently hold.

Ambergris Today: As a Councilor, what have you accomplished during the past 3 years in office?

Councilor Mel Spain: Currently, I occupy the only seat as a representative of the People’s United Party to the San Pedro Town Council. The people of San Pedro elected me to this position on March 5, 2003. Therefore, this current term of office has been challenging working with a majority UDP Town Council. However, previous to this I was also a member of the San Pedro Town Council for the term 2000-2003. During this period of time, I served as both Councilor and Deputy Mayor for two years. During this term of office San Pedro experienced tremendous growth such as cobblestoning of streets, construction of seawall on Sunset Drive, upkeep of roads throughout the island of San Pedro, an increase in revenue collection for the town, and much more accomplishments.

Ambergris Today: How much time a week to you dedicate working for the office of the Town Council?

Councilor Mel Spain: My duties as Chairperson for the Ambergris Caye Planning Committee currently take up a large amount of time. I believe this is essential in the proper growth and management of San Pedro. This allows me only a moderate amount of time at the San Pedro Town Council. Either way, I try to assist all members of the San Pedro community at whatever hour of the day since offering myself as a past and current candidate means being committed to serving the people.

Ambergris Today: What do you have to offer to the community of San Pedro?

Councilor Mel Spain: Definitely my experience as Councilor and as Deputy Mayor will be a great asset to the community of San Pedro. During this period of time, I learned about good fiscal management, transparency, and accountability. I am also an avid supporter of sports, particularly softball. I also see a need to be more committed to our children as they will steer and make way for a future Isla Bonita. Any Town Council will need to be committed to education, health and sports.

Ambergris Today: Is it better when situations benefit your political party or the community at large? If a vital decision is at hand that would greatly benefit your community, but hurt your party politics, would you support in favor of the community or your party?

Councilor Mel Spain: I definitely favor situations that favor San Pedro. I have made San Pedro my home for the past 21 years so any decision should only benefit San Pedro and its residents. Many times we must put the party politics aside as we did in the past when San Pedro was united under one cause and people, not red or blue.

Ambergris Today: What developments do you see in the near future for this island? Which developments concern you and which ones do you think are positive for the island?

Councilor Mel Spain: San Pedro definitely needs a drainage system because this would greatly alleviate the run off water particularly during the rainy season. Our streets would also be easier to maintain. San Pedro currently has a serious lack of recreational areas for our youths and children. This must be looked at immediately since a lack of this will lead them into delinquent activities. Any town council must seriously look into the issue of upliftment, especially in the areas of San Mateo and San Pedrito. These people need better road access and infrastructure.

Ambergris Today: What’s your suggestion for the Town Council to get a higher subvention from Central Government? At present, we are only getting $69,000 a year, how much would be fair for San Pedro?

Councilor Mel Spain: Central Government needs to realize that if it invests in San Pedro it will get returns from San Pedro. Our annual subvention just makes up 2% of the San Pedro Town Council’s budget. As a tourist destination any town council needs to lobby, lobby, lobby for greater assistance from the Government of Belize. I think that with a PUP Town Council and a PUP Central Government this can be more easily accomplished.

Ambergris Today: Elsa Paz denied that 10 acres of land was given to her and the UDP Councilors. The PUP says otherwise. What is truth of the matter?

Councilor Mel Spain: To date I am unable to ascertain if the above is true. If, however, this turns out to be true, then I leave it to their good conscience to deliver the lands back to the residents of San Pedro.

Ambergris Today: 4-storey buildings have been approved for some areas on this island. Mayor Elsa Paz denied it at first and then confirmed the news. What do you think about the construction of 4-storey building on the island, including San Pedro Town?

Councilor Mel Spain: The history of San Pedro will teach us that the first four storey structure to be approved occurred on July 31, 1998. Currently, my duties as Chair of the Ambergris Caye Planning Committee often creates situations that we need to approach carefully. The 4-storey issue is definitely one of them. After consultation with a broad spectrum of the San Pedro community, the Committee now allows for these structures from Holiday Lands south to Boca Ciega and from Mexico Rocks to Basil Jones. Certain criteria have to be met and this was done specifically to spur further growth in tourism and construction, industries that the regular man and woman of San Pedro depend on for a livelihood.

Ambergris Today: Why should people vote for your political party, and secondly, why should they vote for you?

Councilor Mel Spain: Residents of San Pedro have always been the most politically conscious in Belize and they have seen that the greatest level of growth during a PUP Town Council. This is the way that the island needs to continue, on a path of greater development, upliftment and success. The PUP has always shown proven leadership. People should vote for me because of my commitment to San Pedro and its residents. My experience as a councilor and deputy mayor will also help, and my concerns for our island’s children and youth. They are San Pedro’s future and we must invest in them. This is a responsibility I will accept with great humility because San Pedro deserves only the best.

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