Early indications are the political field in West Bay during the May general election will be as competitive as it has been in some time.
An anonymous survey distributed to “West Bayers ONLY” this week lists 13 prospective candidates and asks survey takers in the district in Grand Cayman which ones they might support in the general election, and how sure they are of their choice. Many of the “candidates” listed have not officially announced for office or even decided if they will run.
“Your choices are in no particular order and are names of persons currently being talked about and suggested,” the survey notes. “Please choose up to four candidates.”
The poll, done on www.surveymonkey.com states that it will be confidential and is “being used to assist this surveyor in understanding how you, as a registered West Bay voter, feel today”.
On the 13-person list are Cayman Islands Cabinet members Deputy Premier Rolston Anglin and Tourism and Development Minister Cline Glidden Jr. Both former United Democratic Party members revolted against the former administration in December and went their own way. Mr. Anglin is expected to seek office again. Mr. Glidden has not made his intentions for May known.
Also listed are UDP members former Premier McKeeva Bush and West Bay Member of the Legislative Assembly Capt. Eugene Ebanks. Both are expected to seek re-election.
Another rumoured hopeful on the list is businessman Bernie Bush, although Mr. Bernie Bush has neither publicly declared his intent to seek office nor declared any affiliation with any political group.
People’s Progressive Movement candidates who made the list are Woody DaCosta and Rayburn “Ray” Farrington. Both men have already announced their intentions and affiliation with the PPM.
Representatives of another political group, the Coalition for Cayman, appear on the poll. They are Mervyn Smith and Tara Rivers; although neither individual has officially declared for the election. The deadline to do so is 27 March.
Other as yet unaffiliated West Bay “talked about” candidates on the poll include Capt. Bryan Ebanks, Cadian Ebanks, Dwene A. Ebanks and Sarah L. Orrett.
In recent times, the district of West Bay has been dominated by the UDP and its charismatic leader, Mr. McKeeva Bush. Mr. McKeeva Bush’s team has handily won both the 2005 and 2009 general elections.
However, political opponents have seen what they perceive as a weakening of Mr. McKeeva Bush’s influence. This is mainly due to the results returned by voters in the July 2012 referendum on the “one man, one vote” issue which Mr. McKeeva Bush opposed, as well as his recent arrest by local authorities on corruption-related allegations.
The former premier has said publicly that he is innocent of all allegations. He has not been charged with any crimes.
West Bay voters narrowly rejected the “one man” referendum in July with 1,027 voting “yes” and 1,053 voting “no”. It was the only Cayman Islands voting district to reject the question, although in no district, save North Side, did the measure receive enough votes to be considered legally binding. The Cayman Islands Constitution requires 50 per cent plus one vote of all registered voters to approve a referendum question for it to be considered legally binding upon the government.
The People’s Progressive Movement party, which did not field any candidates in West Bay during the 2009 election, is fielding at least two and possibly more.
“I think two seats are vulnerable there,” said PPM leader Alden McLaughlin in October, referring to the district of West Bay.
Although it does not wish to be known as a political party, two Coalition for Cayman candidates are expected to contest seats in West Bay as well as other independent members.