Bodden Town independent candidate Justin Woods thinks a lot of the problems facing his district come from the type of candidates it keeps electing.
‘We need representatives that are going to look out for us; not representatives that we are going to have to be on the look out for,’ he said at a meeting by the Bodden Town Post Office Wednesday night.
For too long, district MLA’s have been all but invisible between elections, he said – something he wants to change.
‘They treat us like mushrooms,’ he said. ‘They keep us in the dark and feed us on manure.’
Mr. Woods is presenting himself as a new type of candidate for the district – one that will work wholly and exclusively for Bodden Towners.
A successful businessman, farmer and quarry owner, the 35-year-old said there are plenty of other things he could be doing, but he decided to get involved in the election out of pure frustration with the way the country is going.
‘I am not satisfied with the neglect that our people are getting,’ he said. ‘I am not satisfied that my children and your children will have a future in their own country.’
Addressing some of the issues facing the Bodden Town district, he questioned when flooding problems in the area would ever be fixed, and why, with another hurricane season looming, Government had not approved funding for the Savannah sea wall.
Mr. Woods asked why there are not better after-school programs for children in the district and lamented that children are getting ‘better buildings but not better education.’
While the district’s population growth continues to outstrip all other districts, economic and social development programs have not grown at the same rate, Mr. Woods said.
Declaring the time for double standards over, he said the rollover policy must also be made to apply to the civil service, adding that too many expatriates are crossing into government jobs as they approach their term limit to escape being rolled over.
The former civil servant said there is not enough job training for Caymanians and not enough funding available for them to start their own businesses.
He also expressed concern about rising crime across the island, and said community police officers have become conspicuous by their absence.
‘When is the last time you saw a police officer in your neighborhood?’ Mr. Woods asked the crowd. ‘If you want to speak to a police officer, you better start speeding so you can get a ticket.
‘Until we start getting police officers back into the community, how can we have community policing?’
Mr. Woods said the mounting problems facing the country demand new leadership and new ideas, and suggested opening up the economy to new areas.
One possibility would be in education, he said, pointing to the veterinary school, the law school and the University College of the Cayman Islands as institutions that could be leveraged to draw international students here, benefiting the economy.
As he has at other events, Mr. Woods opened up the meeting for questions and comments at the end, but there weren’t any.
‘We have to change the type of representative we are electing,’ he said. ‘When was the last time they came to you and asked ‘what do you think of this piece of legislation?
‘Why is it that we are good enough to vote but we aren’t good enough to give input.’
He pledged to work solely for Bodden Town; where he was raised; where he lives; where his business is; and a place he doesn’t intend to leave.
‘My loyalty it to you the people of Bodden Town and you only,’ he said. ‘Don’t be a mushroom; don’t be fooled.’