‘I will answer to no party,’ John McLean Jr told his East End constituents at a meeting on Monday night in Sand Bluff.
Explaining why he is an independent candidate, Mr. McLean elaborated, ‘I don’t have to answer to a party; I have to answer to you the people.’
He said the party system had divided the country, but he would work for togetherness. He said his opponents had told him he does not have the experience for the job. His reply was that he had good, God-fearing common sense.
He pledged to form a district council after his election so that matters could be dealt with properly instead of for the benefit of just a few.
Standing for office for the first time, Mr. McLean said he was not afraid to ask his Heavenly Father for guidance. He would ask his earthly father, too, because John McLean Sr. has vast experience, so it would be stupid not to take advantage of it.
Mr. McLean Sr. represented East End from 1976 to 2000 and held a Cabinet-level position for three terms.
The young candidate said his father and the late Warren Conolly before him had put East End on the map. He could acknowledge what their successor – his current opponent, Minister for Works Arden McLean — had done, but that had to be put in perspective, he indicated.
He mentioned specifically the seawalls at Half Moon Bay and the entrance to East End. He could not give government credit for them because it was mandatory they be done after Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
National issues he addressed included Caribbean Utilities Company. He said the Minister for Works had been directly involved in negotiations for the new agreement, which he claimed left the company ‘free to do as they will.’ The coming increase in rates could hit as hard as Hurricane Ivan, he said.
Mr. McLean Jr. said CUC should have some conscience. Anyone here knew the hardships suffered after Ivan. ‘We should not have had to pay for their damages when we were trying to pay for our own,’ he declared.
If there is any legal way to reverse the new CUC contract, he said he would find it. If it would cost too much to renegotiate, he will provide a strong voice to encourage another company to come in and break CUC’s monopoly so that people could live a little more comfortably.
He said Government did not have its priorities right in how money was spent. He decried the $630,000 spent for the one day Heroes Day celebrations. Spend $130,000, he suggested; save a half million and put it to repairing schools and civic centres.
He called attention to the number of accidents on the new roundabout. ‘If they do not pave it properly people will continue to slip and slide. The oil will continue to come up out of the asphalt, he explained.
He also criticised the current garbage dump, saying if government had listened to local people it might be on its way to being cleared up by now.
District issues included the primary school, which had recently received the poorest report in its history. As the district’s next representative he would ensure that whoever is teaching the children has Christian values embedded in them.
One of his goals is a trade school, where young people who have been neglected can fulfil their potential.
He outlined his objections to the present work permit situation and said he would not allow big companies to balance their immigration books by giving Caymanians little jobs and having work permits for big jobs. When Caymanians come back from college with qualifications the big companies should have to accept them, have the person on work permit give them the necessary experience and then the Caymanian takes over the job.
Mr. McLean clarified his position on pensions, as stated at the Chamber of Commerce candidates’ forum (Caymanian Compass, 16 April). A question posed was about work permits and he had said people on work permits should have the option of whether or not they want to pay into a pension fund. If they do not, it would be beneficial to the economy for them to spend the money now.
‘I was not talking about us Caymanians,’ he emphasised. Locals should continue to pay five per cent and employees should match it.