Three elected members say vote shows value of independents
Coalition for Cayman candidates were celebrating Thursday after a strong showing in the polls saw them take three seats in the legislature.
Roy McTaggart said he was “elated” and ready to offer constructive leadership from the opposition benches after finishing second in a tight race in the district of George Town.
Only the ever-popular Kurt Tibbetts took more votes than Mr. McTaggart, in his first election race in the capital.
Winston Connolly, another independent endorsed by C4C, was also elected in George Town, while Tara Rivers broke the United Democratic Party monopoly in West Bay.
The results mean the coalition candidates equal the UDP, which also took three seats, as the most influential voice on the opposition side.
The C4C candidates believe the results show an appetite for independents above the party system. That interpretation contrasts with the assessment of several People’s Progressive Movement figures, who said the result was an endorsement of party politics.
Speaking Thursday morning outside the central counting office at the Family Life Centre in George Town, Mr. McTaggart said: “I am elated. The people of George Town have spoken. My message has resonated with them. They have chosen me as their representative in the Legislative Assembly and I am blessed to work for them.”
He added that he felt he had failed in the ultimate goal of forcing a genuine coalition government. But he believes the performance of the C4C bodes well for Cayman’s political future.
Mr. Connolly said the public had shown support for independents, adding that he hoped the established parties would take a more inclusive approach in the new administration.
Mr. McTaggart said he expected his role to be from the opposition benches. He has previously stated his opposition to Mr. McLaughlin’s leadership.
“At this point it looks like Mr. McLaughlin will be premier. I congratulate him and his party on winning this election. I wish him well and we will do whatever we can to work with him.
“It is time for us all to put our differences aside and do what is best for the Cayman Islands,” Mr. McTaggart added. “There are a lot of issues to face and we need strong leadership. I look forward to working on those issues.”
He said he was not expecting a call from Mr. McLaughlin to form a government and expected his role to be “constructive opposition”.
“I’ll be doing whatever is best for Cayman. If I have to call the government out I will call the government out, but if they have something right then I will support them. I won’t oppose anyone for the sake of opposition.”
He said the result was exciting for the Cayman Islands and showed a groundswell of public support for independent candidates.
Mr. Connolly added that he was not expecting a call to form part of the Cabinet because of his previously stated opposition to Mr. McLaughlin’s leadership. He said he would debate every issue on its merits and do whatever was in the best interests of the country.
He said the first order of business for the new government should be to get public finances in order.
“We all need to work together to try to get the country’s books back in order as our first priority. Once we get the accounts in order we can move forward, knowing the full financial picture of the country.”
He added that he would support the government when they worked in the best interests of the Cayman Islands and hold them to account when they did not.
“It is going to be a PPM-led government,” Mr. Connolly said. “I hope they can take some constructive criticism and ideas from the rest of us because we need to do this together. It is time for party divisions and disunity to stop. The party system took a hit in this election and I hope we can carry that through and work as one.
“I hope with what has transpired we will see more humility in the approach going forward by the dominant parties.”
Tara Rivers said she was happy to be elected in West Bay. She took the second slot in the district in a strong showing.
“I think it just goes to show what we have been saying all along, that the community is ready for change. I am happy I could be that change agent for the district and for the country.
“The campaign was always focussed on the issues and talking about credible solutions and I think my success has demonstrated that voters in West Bay will look at the candidates and assess them on their own merits.”
Jacqueline Haynes, another C4C candidate who was not successful in George Town, said the success of the C4C had proven people wanted a change from party politics.
“We are not believers in the party system and that was what this essentially was about. At the end of this race, success for us as a group was not about an individual getting in, it is about changing a mindset and making sure that the movement comes alive for the people as well. So it is going to be a continuing effort.
“It does not matter whether I am in the House doing it or outside the movement continues. And as a group we are going to keep on working. For us as a group who have not made it into the Legislative Assembly, we are there as a support system and we are making sure that the issues are kept alive.”