Independent candidates were licking their wounds after winning just one seat in last week’s general election that seems to have cemented the position of party politics in Cayman.
North Side’s Ezzard Miller was the only independent to secure a seat, and he had declared early in the campaign that he planned to support the United Democratic Party.
Twenty-two independent candidates received just over a quarter of the total number of votes cast, taking 10,366 of the 39,740 votes submitted on 12,204 ballots.
West Bay independent candidate Paul Rivers, who secured 25 per cent of votes, or 741 votes, in West Bay, said he felt he mounted a good campaign, but admitted that it was difficult for independents to get a foothold against the strength of party politics in Cayman.
‘I think I made a significant impact with the stance that I took in the 2009 general election, but being an independent candidate, you are going up against a lot of support when you go up against the parties,’ he said.
‘The parties are now well established and they have big money behind them. Money talks,’ he said.
Insisting he had no regrets about his campaign, Mr. Rivers said he was willing to work with the elected candidates in West Bay.
Asked if he would stand again, he said that he intended to be a candidate in the 2013 elections, but would consider whether to run as an independent or with one of the parties.
‘That has yet to be determined,’ he said. ‘It looks like party politics has made a stance here in Cayman.’
George Town independent contender Burns Conolly considered a favourite by some, said as he left Mary Miller Hall in the early morning hours of Thursday: ‘I’m not disappointed. I’m pragmatic.’
Mr. Conolly said it was hard for independents to tackle the huge amounts of money behind the parties’ campaigns.
‘They have millions of dollars behind them,’ he said.
Mr. Conolly, who garnered 784 votes, or 17 per cent of those cast in George Town, said he would not rule out running in future elections.
Walling Whittaker, who got 981 votes, or almost 21.5 per cent of the votes in George Town, also said he was not disappointed by the outcome of the election. ‘I would have liked to have won obviously, but the people have spoken and I respect that.
‘It is obvious that party politics is here and it is here to stay now,’ he said, adding that in hindsight, he felt that he should have become involved with a political party to become elected.
‘The era of the independents has passed and it is time to be a member of a political party in order to become elected. It’s not that the independents lacked ideas or initiative or willingness; it is that independents have difficulty coming up against the party machinery.’
Mr. Whittaker said he had already begun campaigning for the next election.
‘The issues I campaigned on are still relevant issues and I will continue to try to see those issues are brought to the fore,’ he said.
He said he hoped to meet with the UDP to discuss issues including what could be done about Mount Trashmore, how to deal with the unemployment situation and how to help small contractors.
West Bay’s Reginald ‘Choppy’ Delapenha said it was now clear that Cayman had adopted the party system.
‘That’s pretty evident from the polls,’ he said.
But he said this was not the sentiment that had been expressed by voters prior to and during the election campaign, and this had heartened independents to run for office.
‘Many people professed a desire for a much more balanced system that the independent candidates would have brought,’ he said, adding ‘However, that did not play out in the polls’.
Mr. Delapenha, who won 627 votes, or almost 21 per cent of West Bay votes, would not say whether he would run again, but said ‘If I were to run again, I would align myself with one of the parties or form another party or something of that nature.’