At a political meeting in Bodden Town on Wednesday night, United Democratic Party candidates Mark Scotland and Dwayne Seymour struck back against ‘threats’ and rumours about their ineligibility to run for office.
Insisting that the decision fell squarely on the shoulders of the voters of Bodden Town, they said they were on the ballot paper and therefore anyone in the constituency could vote for them.
The pair missed the 20 April deadline for declaring in the official Cayman Islands Gazette any government contracts they hold. This means they are open to a challenge in court by any Bodden Town voter, rival candidate or the Attorney General.
Prior to the meeting, the audience was given a leaflet in a question and answer format, beginning ‘Are Mark and Dwayne disqualified?’ The answer reads: ‘No, both Mark Scotland and Dwayne ‘John John’ Seymour had been duly nominated as candidates 8 and 9 for the District of Bodden Town. It is their rights as Caymanians who have worked hard for their community to put themselves forward to stand for election as members of our Legislative Assembly.’
Supporters claim the issue of the pair failing to declare the existence of public contracts before the deadline is a ploy by the People’s Progressive Movement and independent candidates to convince Bodden Town residents that they will be wasting their votes if they vote for Mr. Scotland and Mr. Seymour.
The leaflet reads: ‘They can’t beat Mark and Dwayne on the issues so they have tried to find any reason they can to discourage Mark and Dwayne from running and the people of Bodden Town from turning out to vote for them.’
Nine UDP candidates and members of its board filled the small stage erected at Northward Road Park, in front of the house Mr. Scotland was brought up in.
Mr. Seymour, addressing the crowd, said the current representatives of Bodden Town, the PPM’s Anthony Eden, Charles Clifford and Osbourne Bodden had joined forces to get elected in 2005, but had gone their separate ways and failed to work for the people of Bodden Town throughout their term.
‘Then they come back together and fight and try to win the election again. Don’t let them fool you with last minute trickeries,’ he said.
He added: ‘We are running and after winning on May 20, we intend to serve in the Legislative Assembly. We are not going anywhere and your vote will not be disenfranchised. A vote for the PPM will be a waste of your vote as you will only get four more years of reckless and wasteful spending. Don’t give in to the lies of the PPM.’
Mr. Scotland, describing the controversy over the declaration of the contracts as a non-issue: ‘The only reason this issue continues to stay in the press is because Dwayne and myself are the strongest candidates in Bodden Town and we are considered serious threats to the PPM and independent candidates who want to be elected in Bodden Town.’
He said the NRA had provided information to the media that showed some of his contracts were no longer valid and that on one of the contracts, he was a sub-contractor and he had mentioned it merely out of an ‘abundance of caution’.
On other topics, Mr. Seymour, addressing the young people of Bodden Town, said the UDP were committed to them and the rest of the youth of the Cayman Islands, a section of the community he claimed the PPM had let down by failing to set up vocational and technical training colleges for them.
He said that without such training, students who were not academically gifted were entering the job market unprepared.
To help young people whose parents were not home in time from work to assist them with their studies, Mr. Seymour said he planned to set up a homework hotline, and pledged to deal with the problem of gangs on the island by establishing a programme called Gang Resistance Education and Training, known as GREAT, from Phoenix, Arizona.
‘The objectives of this programme is to prevent youth crime, violence and gang involvement while developing a positive relationship among law enforcement, families and our young people through collaboration with community-based prevention programmes to create safe neighbourhoods.’
Mr. Seymour spoke of the importance of using sports as a medium for social development, adding that under the UDP, intra-middle and high school national sports events will be organised.
He said the PPM was blaming everything on ‘Mr. Global Recession’. ‘I don’t know how he dresses or he talks, but all I say is everything since 2005 is now being blamed on this poor man,’ he said.
He added: ‘The global recession is here today and we are feeling the effects every day, but because the government has mismanaged our economy so badly, we have nothing to deal with the global recession… we have nothing left for a rainy day.’
Mr. Scotland insisted that contrary to assertions from the PPM that the UDP would halt major capital infrastructure projects, the party had no plans to do so.
He said the UDP would not stop the construction of a new school in Frank Sound. ‘We have no intention to stop any school,’ Mr. Scotland said.
He said the UDP would review teachers’ salaries in Cayman, and would ensure that UCCI becomes a fully accredited institution.
Outlining some of the measures the UDP would take if they returned to power, Mr. Scotland said the party would ‘ensure Caymanians are protected in the workforce, assist Caymanian homeowners, implement a small business stimulus and recovery plan, protect and enhance the financial services industry, implement strategies to promote tourism which is in decline, develop and aggressive plan to identify new industries to diversify the economy’.