The results are in from Wednesday’s by-election in Dangriga. The United Democratic Party’s Frank “Pawpa” Mena is the new area representative, defeating People’s United Party rival Anthony Sabal by 2,164 votes to 1,526. Belize Green Independent Party (BGIP) candidate Llewelyn Lucas received 14 votes and there were 34 rejected ballots. In all, some 3,738 Dangriga residents came out to vote, representing just 59.57% of voters registered in the division. It may not have been the crushing victory the UDP were expecting after their blowouts in the Ca yo North by-election in January or the municipal elections in March, but it is just as sweet. We spoke to the new area representative moments after his victory was confirmed.
“It feels good. It shows that my people believe and we will walk through this together.”
“Explain to me…where you sure of the outcome? Did they have a screw feel because the PUP came out hard core from across the country. Did you have any doubt going into the reconciliation 6:00 pm?”
Frank ‘Pawpa’ Mena
“I never had any doubt. Maybe you are asking that because you did not see me. I wasn’t in any counting. I can’t handle that. I’ll be real, the vibes … I can’t deal with it. When I saw the turnout and it was coming slow I got a little bit concerned, to be honest with you. At the end of the day we ensured that our pledge list we matched up and we did well. We were expecting sixty [percent], we got about fifty-five. We need to go back and look at it but I am comfortable that my team worked hard and I want to congratulate them on the hard work and the dedication that they put in.”
Wednesday’s victory was due to the heavy support for Mena from his party, and he says he is grateful and will take the political lessons to heart.
Frank ‘Pawpa’ Mena
“Of course we accepts the results as they are. I wanted more. Some people told me that I have too much ambition but I wanted more. Next time, we will jam for more.”
Giovanni Bracket – Plus TV Rproter
“Now Pawpa, you had a lot of help with the National Executive of the Party… seeing that they can concentrate in one area. Are you concerned that in an early General Elections, that you will be left alone to fend for yourself. Are you concerned now that the stakes may me different there.”
Frank ‘Pawpa’ Mena
“I have always fought for my own. Maybe for the first time in my life I am getting this kind of help. I always fight for my own and that is what I am use to. I appreciate the help that I got. I appreciate the love that I got and as we are building, and you know that this constituency of Dangriga, Sarawee and Hope Creek has been going through its own rebuilding process and so we have learned so much from these gentlemen, these fine gentlemen and ladies, of course, they have brought so much to the table and we have learned. We appreciate [that] knowledge and we will ensure that we capitalize on them and we’ll ensure that we build the product, we add value to what we have.”
And completing his triumph, the new member of the House of Representatives is expected to be even further elevated to the exclusive club that is Cabinet, as a Minister of Government. Prime Minister and UDP leader Dean Barrow explained why he feels Mena and Dangrigans deserve it.
In terms of Frank’s determination and drive I don’t think there is any chance of him not delivering and of course government is there to support him. So no, this is a momentum builder. This I think puts him in a near unassailable position for the general election. So, all told, a good days work. I am happy, I am certain he is and we feel that both, with respect to this constituency and generally, across the board, UDP is in an excellent position. We are extremely grateful to people. I have said earlier today, I have said earlier today, I believe in talking to you, that nobody can miss the fact that there has been a sustained campaign against the Government from the Opposition and those in league with the opposition from social activist. I am not going to quarrel with anyone, but naturally, when the people of this country continue to show that no traction can be gained by the anti-government set, that pleases us and makes us believe that it is because we are doing a good job. It even encourages us to do an even better job.”
Now, the new area representative pledges to deliver on his promises – and unite all Dangrigans.
Frank “Pawpa” Mena
“Listen to me, I will give it my best shot. There are nothing that really frightened me in this world Jules because I come from humble beginning and I will give it my best shot, because my people believes in me and I have to deliver and if I can’t really deliver to my people, I am willing to come to my people and have them understand that this is a fight I can’t win and I will keep with my people to make them understand that we need to win this together.You see too much things separate us in Dangriga and we have to have the conversation Jules and maybe, politically I am not saying the right things, but we have to have the conversation because at the end of the day it’s about my people and I am not going anywhere from here. I will stay right here. It might be kind of rough, but at the end of the day it’s about here.”
Mena takes his seat at the next meeting of the House of Representatives, giving the UDP 19 seats to the PUP’s 12.