Anticipating an influx of new voter registrations as part of his petition drive for a referendum on one man, one vote, North Side Member of the Legislative Assembly Ezzard Miller sought assurances this week that the Elections Office could handle the extra applications.
Mr. Miller queried who would take over as Supervisor of Elections following the retirement of senior civil servant Kearney Gomez last month.
Deputy Governor Franz Manderson said Mr. Gomez would remain as the Supervisor of Elections until July, as he was currently on pre-retirement leave and would not officially retire until then.
“Mr. Gomez … continues to serve, he is still a civil servant and is still serving in that role. Given that and given that we do have staff at the Elections Office, I do not anticipate that there will be any issues in terms of timely registration,” Mr. Manderson said.
Mr. Miller, who along with East End MLA Arden McLean, is spearheading a petition calling for the government to hold a referendum on the “one man, one vote” issue.
Signatories to the petition, which calls for a referendum no later than November, are required to be registered voters if their signatures are to count toward the referendum numbers.
Mr. McLean and Mr. Miller hope to collect 5,000 signatures on a petition by April and turn it over to Cabinet. If that referendum is approved by 50 per cent-plus one of all registered voters – around 7,500 people in the Cayman Islands – 16 single-member districts on Grand Cayman and two on the Sister Islands would be in place by the May 2013 vote.
Mr. Manderson said Mr. Gomez, who served as a civil servant for 40 years – most recently as chief officer of the Ministry of District Administration, Works, Lands and Agriculture – remains on contract with the government until July.
However, Mr. McLean pointed out that the Elections Law called for the supervisor to be a senior civil servant and queried that if Mr. Gomez was on contract, he may not be considered a senior civil servant.
Mr. Manderson described Mr. Gomez as a chief officer who was on pre-retirement leave, thereby meeting the criteria of being a senior civil servant.
“That continues until July at which time, His Excellency the Governor will make a decision on what happens going forward,” Mr. Manderson said. “He is on contract, until July, but he is taking leave as of 1 February for six months.”
Mr. McLean, insisting that he was not questioning Mr. Gomez’s integrity nor his work as Supervisor of Elections, said there were “many good reasons why the Supervisor of Elections must be a civil servant”.
“There must be no question as to whether he or she is retired, on contract, or anything else. That person must be a permanent civil servant to ensure the integrity of that office … that there is no question whether that person is a civil servant. I would ask the deputy governor to go to the governor and appoint someone who is a senior civil servant in the service to ensure there are no questions locally or internationally,” Mr. McLean urged.