For the first time in the 40-year history of the Liberian media – known as the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), a female is elected to the Union's highest office, the presidency. Madam Elizabeth E. Hoff, a Liberian female journalist with long years of experience in print and electronic media, was elected on November 13 to head the Union.
Madam Hoff is an executive producer at the Talking Drum Studio in Monrovia. She holds a BA degree in Mass Communication from the University of Liberia (UL), and has worked with several media institutions ranging from the positions of reporter to editorial staff.
On two separate occasions, Madam Hoff ran for the positions of Secretary-General and Vice President of the Union but suffered defeat at the hands of Mr. Samuel Togba Slewion who is now the Secretary-General of the Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA), with a single vote and also at the hands of Mr. James Kaizolu, again with a narrow margin.
She defeated the incumbent President and Vice President, Messrs. Terrency Sesay and Malcolm Johnson in the elections held on Saturday, November 13 at the G. W. Gibson High School on Capitol Bye-Pass.
With less than 24-hour to the poll, the Union's incumbent president, Mr. Sesay pulled out from the race and asked his supporters to vote for Madam Hoff. Out of 319 registered voters, 284 journalists participated in the poll, with 143 voting for Madam Hoff, while 134 voted for Mr. Johnson, the out-going vice president of the Union.
According to information gathered by The Perspective in Monrovia, forth night before the elections, representatives from the Public Affairs of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) met with both campaign teams of Madam Hoff and Mr. Sesay at the royal Hotel on Tubman Boulevard in Sinkor for Mr. Sesay to withdraw from the race and pledge his support to Madam Hoff.
Accordingly, the UNMIL representatives allegedly promised to offer the out-going president a lucrative position with a monthly salary of about USD$1,000.00 as a compromised, but Mr. Sesay denied compromising his election for a UN job. But many journalists attributed Madam Hoff’s victory to the last minute pullout by Mr. Sesay.
Other elected officers include George Barpee, Vice President, Alphonso Zeon, Secretary-General, Zoegar Jaynes and Peter Quoquo, Assistant Secretary General.
Mr. Barpee of the Freedom Journal Newspaper received 113 votes ahead of Crispin Tulay of the Vanguard Newspaper, 94 votes and Harvey Roger of the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS), 70 votes, while Mr. Jaynes of LBS defeated his workmate Joshua Kpenneh 161 to 115 votes, respectively. Mr. Quoquo of Radio Veritas defeated Henry Flomo of LBS 170 votes to 104 votes while Mr. Zeon of Radio Veritas went unopposed.