And while the now-Honorable Frank “Pawpa” Mena experiences the thrill of victory, defeated rival Anthony Sabal must fight through the agony of having come close. The PUP started behind its rival despite holding the seat after former representative Ivan Ramos suddenly resigned last month, briefly contemplating not running a candidate at all. But Wednesday’s result, Sabal told reporters in his concession speech around the start of counting, indicates that the party has come far.
“Well, I must concede that Pawpa Mena is the new Area Representative for Dangriga, Hope Creek and Sarawee.”
“Can you give us an idea of what had fallen down with your machinery today, or what helped to make them pick Pawpa Mena?”
Anthony Sabal, P.U.P – Standard Bearer, Dangriga
“ It’s not a matter of falling down.I’m very proud of the machinery, very proud of the campaigners, the support we got from north, south, east and west. The People’s United Party came together, we were unified. Yes we know the factors, three weeks was a short time, as I said, we hit the ground running and sprinting and there are always those factors that we have to consider no matter how confident we are about it the factors are there. If you look closely, we have narrowed the margin. If you look closely, what we achieved in three weeks, imagine if we had a little longer time. And as usual, it’s the people that decide and the power belongs to the people.”
Sabal says he will not give up the fight and he says he has no regrets and no excuses. He says he has nothing to suggest either way that the influential Ramos family affected Wednesday’s outcome.
“I am giving the same answers every time when I say yes , it is yes for the long haul.”
“Do you feel you were perhaps in an unfair race in terms of going up against a government with a its full muscularity of all its resources at hand. “
“Well when you look at politics, that’s a part of the game. You can’t cry about what is fair or unfair. It is what was legal. It was legal to call the bi election. It was legal to have the candidates and it’s legal to have the elections.“
“How consequential that Mr. Ramos made no showing on your behalf today and as far as we can tell, the Ramos family, which is a large PUP family in Dangriga, was not a prominent part in the P.U.P decor today?”
“We are not sure of that. I don’t think anyone is sure if the Ramos voted or did not vote for me. At the end of the day, the power belongs to the people and the majority of the people decided that they would like to go with Pawpa Mena, then we all accept that. That has nothing to do with what went on in the past. We can summarize, we can guess but the truth is, at the end of the day, it’s the people who decided.”
While no decision has been made by the party, Sabal expects to continue. A one-on-one fight with the new area representative in a general election, he expects, will be a different story.
“General Elections are usually a whole different affair. As I said earlier in different interviews, I was told that I would feel the might of the United Democratic Party, it’s a bi-elections. So, I got help from the People’s United Party on a National Level. When it’s a general elections, we all know, its every man, every woman for themselves taking care of their constituency. Then we will play another kind of game.
“You think that will be a fair match up?”
“Of course. Everybody will be busy. So that new industry that you see outside, in terms of the hotels being packed, food being sold, the restaurants… that has been a new industry for the bi-elections. I don’t think you will see that for the general. Everybody will be at home in their constituency taking care of their own business.”
Sabal and Mena are distant relatives and were at one point teacher and student, and the older man says he has no bad blood in him for his younger rival.
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