Former Chief Executive Officer and Financial Secretary in the Government of Belize and former Vice-President at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Dr. Carla Barnett, is entering politics.
On Wednesday she announced her candidacy in the Freetown Division, which is currently held by Leader of the Parliamentary Opposition and of the People’s United Party (PUP) Francis Fonseca, and was last in the hands of the United Democratic Party (UDP) in 1992, when Derek Aikman was forced to resign due to bankruptcy.
But how do you beat a three-term sitting area representative, who is also Leader of the Opposition, with precious little political experience of any kind?
Dr. Barnett told reporters she believes she has the key.
“ I don’t think I am known as somebody who is set out to waste time. I believe that there is a strong possibility of winning that seat, with support and with hard work. Yes, there’s a vacuum in Freetown, but the vacuum is on both sides if I can be blunt.
There’s not a lot of presence from the current Representative in Freetown. When you talk to the people of Freetown, that’s what they say.
Statistically speaking, the seat was relatively marginal in the last 2 elections, relatively marginal. That suggest to me, that there is indeed every possibility of taking that seat, with proper leadership, and with hard work”
It is a major coup for the UDP, which has been beating its chest in the wake of a comprehensive defeat of the PUP to re-take the Cayo North seat, and a messy but satisfactory conclusion to the sugar crisis.
UDP Party Leader and Prime Minister Dean Barrow says that while Dr. Barnett’s work in the region has been exemplary, her home, and her people, have always come first for the native of Sarteneja, Corozal, and resident of Freetown.
“Everybody is aware of the fabulous record of Doctor Barnett here in this country. She’s been Deputy Governor of the Central Bank. She’s been Permanent Secretary or Chief Executive Officer. She’s been, most importantly, the Financial Secretary of this country under a People’s United Party Administration, asked to come in and to save the day, when it was clear that that administration was going and taking the country to rack and ruin.”
According to the Prime Minister, Dr. Barnett resigned as Financial Secretary in the wake of the UHS scandal in 2007.
There will be a constituency convention, but few challenges are expected, mostly because of the degree of difficulty involved.
Former candidate Lee Mark Chang attended Wednesday’s event and has ceded caretakership of the Division, pending Dr. Barnett’s official endorsement.
She also discussed her fortunes in the context of the UDP’s dismal record with female candidates. She says it’s a different time and place, and the right time for her.
Doctor Carla Barnett
“This is 2015. A lot has happened. Things have changed significantly. I don’t believe that the Party is where it was in that time. As I have said before, everybody that I have spoken with has pledged support,
I have no reason to believe that the Party does not want to win the Freetown Division. They do. We do. We are setting out to do that. It is a different time.”