For the past two Municipal Elections Great Belize Productions has held a special program where the host interviews Mayoral candidates from both major political parties. The format of the program is that both candidates are asked the same questions and given the same amount of air time. The Mayoral candidates from each municipality and political party are interviewed on the same program one after the next. A coin toss determines which candidate is interviewed first. That is how the show has been produced for the past two municipal elections but this year there was no coin toss because all mayoral candidates of the United Democratic Party including Mayoral Candidate Yvette Torres decided not to partake in this year’s rounds of interviews. But the show proceed anyway and kicked off this morning with P.U.P’s Orange Walk Mayoral Candidate and current mayor Kevin Bernard who answered a  number of questions which ranged from accountability and transparency to infrastructural works.

Now, Orange Walkenos are well aware of the hurdles the current council has faced over the past three years but despite that fact their track records speaks of good governance. They have managed to clear all debts inherited from the previous U.D.P Town Council which adds up to more than half a million dollars. With the little resources available and with no assistance from Central Government, the council has been able to carry out its mandate including that of upgrading streets. So, the question is, has the council proven to Orange Walkenos that they are a working council willing to bring down all barriers to develop Orange Walk? Mayor Bernard believes they have.

Screen_Shot_2015-02-05_at_7.51.39_PMKevin Bernard- Mayor Orange Walk Town

“I think that the past three years has already shaped the decision for March 4th, our achievements that we have been able to do and the people of Orange Walk have been telling us in the campaign trail has been very positive and I am pretty sure that come March 4th we will definitely be victorious. We have had the experiences we have worked under a UDP government where we haven’t gotten any support and we are telling the people of Orange Walk we can continue to work for you we can continue to show that we can improve in the services that we provide regardless if it is a UDP government and I am hopeful too that sometime during our term a new PUP government will come in and I know speaking to our leaders we will get the support that we need.”

But the fact remains that if elected another term Mayor Bernard and his team will still have to deal with a U.D.P National Government, at least until 2017 when General Elections are scheduled to take place. But no worries says Mayor Bernard, if they did without Governments assistance once, they can do it twice.

Kevin Bernard- Mayor Orange Walk Town

“Our revenue stream is broad in the sense that we have our traffic revenues, we have been able to improve traffic revenues, our property taxes collections was at a rate of 40% we improve that and we are at 72% and we plan to take that even further but it is not that we are taxing our people more is just that we are finding better ways in getting the monies back to the council and that will translate and will be able to give us the additional resources so that we can finance some of the work but I must make it absolutely clear that it is not a responsibility of a municipality or council to build roads that why government is there we are to maintain roads and so forth but we have been able to build some roads and we have been able to show the people that we can do something different with the same resources and we can make a difference in our community.”

During the interview the mayor also gave his take on how autonomous a municipality should be.

Kevin Bernard- Mayor Orange Walk Town

“I believe in autonomy because that is something that whilst you have the government that should do something for every municipality I think that giving the municipality that level that they can make certain decisions  and seek in the case of funding outside once it is protected by law I think there should be no problem and so that would then give municipalities the ability to do more and I know that the laws needs to be strengthened because right now we talk about autonomy but they give you with one hand and they take away with the other and we are looking at these things through eh municipal bill that we are working right now ad these are thing we need to strengthened as Mayors and fight for these things to come but we are in some way autonomous but it is only when you have good leadership is that when you can being development to your community.”

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