Pattaya gets an election budget, but still no date

Sonthaya Kunplome will bid for the first time to become the city’s elected mayor in elections scheduled to be held before the middle of this year.

Pattaya approved a budget for this year’s election of a new mayor and council.

While the date has not been set, Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda said in January that a Pattaya election finally will be held, most likely in the first half of the year.

Mayor Sonthaya Kunplome said Feb. 11 that the budget for the poll has been approved.

At the same time, the mayor, who likely will stand for the first time before voters to retain the seat he was appointed to by the former junta, will begin vetting candidates for his “Rao Ruk Pattaya”, the successor the Palang Chon Party.

An election would be the first since July 2012 with voters finally getting a chance to vote up or down on the Kunplome dynasty that has run Pattaya for decades.

More than nine years ago, voters returned Itthiphol Kunplome to the mayor’s chair and 24 council members from his Palang Chon Party slate.

This year’s mayoral elections will be the first since July 2012 with voters finally getting a chance to vote to keep the same mayor and his team or opt for new administrators for the city.

A lot has changed since then, starting with the military coup in May 2014. The elected officials remained in power until their terms ended at the end of June 2016.

After that, the junta put then permanent secretary Chanapong Sriviset in charge until 2018 when Itthiphol’s older brother Sonthaya was named mayor by Gen. Prayut, for whom he had been softening up Chonburi for in anticipation of national elections in 2019.

The city council, meanwhile, has been reappointed twice by the government. In 2016, twelve new members were appointed by the military. That board collapsed and was disbanded last year after three of the last six members resigned in protest over a controversial CCTV camera contract.

After initially refusing to appoint replacements, the current government acquiesced to the installment of 12 temporary members in November.

It’s unknown if a properly elected council will be restored to the previous 24 members.