A total of 58 political candidates appeared in the voting district nomination stations Wednesday, making the Cayman Islands’ upcoming 22 May general election quite competitive indeed.
Elections Supervisor Kearney Gomez said Wednesday that 58 was believed to be the largest number of political candidates the Cayman Islands had ever seen, surpassing the year 2000 general election by just one candidate.
The largest number of candidates, 21, were nominated in George Town, which now has six Legislative Assembly seats up for grabs. Fourteen candidates apiece were nominated in the districts of Bodden Town and West Bay to vie for four seats in each district.
However, the district with the smallest number of candidates – just two in North Side – may have been the stage of the biggest surprise on Nomination Day.
It was expected by late Tuesday that North Side MLA Ezzard Miller would be running unopposed for his assembly seat. However, Tuesday evening former Electricity Regulatory Authority Managing Director Joey Ebanks posted the following on Facebook: “I have resigned my position as [managing director] of the ERA,” Mr. Ebanks wrote. “I can tell you I am an independent candidate and I will be identifying individuals from whom I believe I have a working relationship with.”
Mr. Ebanks, who has previously been linked with both the United Democratic Party and the People’s Progressive Movement, lost a 2009 bid for the North Side seat to Mr. Miller. He was suspended as managing director of the Cayman Islands Electricity Regulatory Authority amid a police theft and fraud investigation earlier this month. No charges have been filed against Mr. Ebanks and he has denied wrongdoing.
Mr. Miller shrugged off the election challenge.
“He’s looking for a fight and a sideshow and he is not going to get it from me,” Mr. Miller said. “I don’t plan to acknowledge him as a candidate in any public forum.”
Mr. Ebanks fired back: “There is a vendetta out against me and here is Ezzard Miller running unopposed. That is not democracy. He has done nothing for the community in North Side. Why should I sit back and allow him to run unopposed?”
A strange situation at the James M. Bodden Civic Centre nomination station found former Tourism Minister Charles Clifford face-to-face with all of his former People’s Progressive Movement government members, who showed up to file their nominations just after Mr. Clifford had completed his processing.
All was cordial as Mr. Clifford shook hands with his opponents, including former Health Minister Anthony Eden and fellow ex-Bodden Town MLA Osbourne Bodden.
“I’m still very good friends with all of them,” Mr. Clifford said. “I think that this whole idea that politics is supposed to separate us in Cayman is not a good thing.”
Mr. Clifford’s nomination was followed by the nomination of the four PPM candidates including Mr. Eden, Mr. Bodden, and political newcomers Alva Suckoo and Wayne Panton.
“We have a team of individuals working together with common goals…they will get things done,” Mr. Suckoo said.
Other independent candidates being nominated in Bodden Town Wednesday included Errington Webster, Gregg Anderson, Vincent Frederick, and Arnold Berry. The United Democratic Party sent two candidates for nomination to Bodden Town, Chris Saunders and Theresa Pitcairn. Current elected members Mark Scotland and Dwyane Seymour were also nominated along with fellow People’s National Alliance member Richard Christian.
Nomination Day in West Bay got off to a slow start. The first nomination in the district went to Bernie Bush, who is running with the United Democratic Party. His nomination, by Chet Ebanks and Ralph E. Williams, was recorded at 11.20am, more than three and a half hours after official nominations opened.
McKeeva Bush, who was nominated for the eighth time, predicted that his United Democratic Party would win in the three districts in which its candidates are running – four in West Bay, four in George Town and two in Bodden Town, adding: “We’ll get a few others too”.
He was nominated by Alice Faith Christian, who nominated him for his first election and has nominated him in every election since, and Wenzil Burlington.
The other two West Bay UDP candidates were next – incumbent MLA Captain Eugene Ebanks and first-timer Velma Powery-Hewitt.
The two West Bay independent candidates endorsed by the Coalition for Cayman, Tara Rivers and Mervin Smith were next to be nominated.
By afternoon, the nominations room, at the hall of the John Gray Memorial Church, was getting crowded as the Progressives candidates and its supporters, along with the members of the People’s National Alliance, filed through the door. The PPM was represented by nominees Ray Farrington, Capt. Bryan Ebanks, Woody DaCosta and Dalkeith Bothwell. The PNA had two candidates nominated, Deputy Premier Rolston Anglin and current Tourism Minister Cline Glidden Jr.
Late arrivals to West Bay on Nomination Day were Dwene Ebanks and Andrea Christian, both independent candidates.
In George Town, the Smith Road Centre was bustling with activity as 21 George Town candidates turned out for Nomination Day.
Returning officers were kept busy, as the flow of candidates began at roughly 10am with a bussed caravan of Peoples Progressive Movement candidates and supporters. Nominators and witnesses, tasked with putting forward individuals as candidates added to the melee.
Although there were many candidates, there were no surprises, with the candidates who participated in Nomination Day having engaged the public prior to being officially nominated.
The United Democratic Party were next to arrive at the Smith Road Centre. And candidates, along with supporters filed out of their bus to officially list their nominees for the district of George Town, before moving on to Bodden Town.
Independent candidate Winston Connolly noted, “I had to follow my mind on this and trust that doing what I think is right was ultimately the most important thing,” after signing the document that now officially makes him eligible for public office.
The huge list of candidates in George Town included Mr. Connolly, Jude Scott, Roy McTaggart, Sharon Roulstone, Frank McField, Matthew Leslie, Jacqueline Haynes, Derrington ‘Bo’ Miller, and Stefan Baraud – all independent candidates.
The United Democratic Party was represented by MLAs Mike Adam and Ellio Solomon as well as Renard Moxam, Walling Whittaker, Rayal Bodden and Jonathan Piercy. The People’s Progressive Movement also had six nominees; Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin and MLA Kurt Tibbetts as well as Kenneth Bryan, Lucille Seymour, Joey Hew and Marco Archer.
Cayman Brac and Little Cayman
A total of five candidates were nominated in the Sister Islands, including two sitting MLAs, Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly and opposition member Moses Kirkconnell.
Announced candidate and newcomer David Allen Bodden was joined later in the day by former MLA Lyndon Martin and Maxine Moore, both of whom have sought elected office prior to this election.
Only two candidates were nominated in East End and both stood for election during the 2009 vote.
John McLean Jr. was nominated first, around 10am Wednesday and is running as an independent candidate.
There was a slight slip-up with one of the nominators for serving East End MLA Arden McLean; apparently one of the two individuals he initially used in the nomination process was
not on the voters list that was in possession of the nominating officer. An alternate nominator was chosen and Mr. McLean was nominated.
Caymanian Compass staff members Brent Fuller, Carol Winker, Norma Connolly, James Whittaker, Stuart Wilson and Jewel Levy contributed to this story.