The eastern districts of Grand Cayman have marked electoral success for both its incumbent independent legislators as North Side’s Ezzard Miller and East End’s Arden McLean stormed to decisive re-election victories.
Mr. Miller was returned to the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday with 326 votes out of the district’s 599 registered electors, or 70.1 per cent of the total ballots cast.
Challenger Joey Ebanks, who faced an uphill battle against both Mr. Miller’s long incumbency and a series of looming legal obstacles, recorded only 139 votes, or 29.89 per cent of the ballots.
In East End, Mr. McLean gained 317 votes out of an eligible electorate of 639, recording 57.23 per cent of the vote. In a strong showing, however, challenger John McLean recorded only 80 votes fewer than the first-place finisher, recording 237 ballots or 42.78 per cent of the poll.
Speaking to a noisy post-election crowd at North Side’s Craddock Ebanks Civic Centre, Mr. Miller told supporters the next four years were likely to be difficult, but “together, we are capable of getting it done.”
“I send a message to this country that we will not accept and will not tolerate corruption in your country,” he said, hammering home one of his chief campaign themes, while indicating dissent regarding government’s annual budget.
“We will not accept expenditure of money for unnecessary and frivolous stuff, and, ladies and gentlemen, I commit to you tonight that I will ensure that I continue to be your advocate in this country,” Mr. Miller said.
Mr. Ebanks offered his own congratulations to Mr. Miller, but warned of a renewed challenge in another four years.
“Ezzard ran a great campaign and they won fair and square,” he said. “We didn’t do enough. I didn’t do enough. With everything else going on around me, I think the team that I had did a fantastic job.
“The thing I want to make clear is this man did not cheat in any way,” he said, rejecting suspicions among his supporters that had threatened to disrupt the late-night gatherings.
“They campaigned hard; they won their support base and they won the votes – and that’s democracy.
“I really do hope that Ezzard will take some of the ideas that we put forward – for affordable housing, for the mechanic shop and that sort of stuff – and benefit the community. I am happy to help him with it.”
Vowing to “be back” in 2017, Mr. Ebanks said he would “either be behind a young North Side candidate that I’m going to help along in the next four years or I will be the candidate. But he [Mr. Miller] needs to know – I’m going to tell him right now – he’s going to be contested in the next election if he runs again.”
Mr. Miller said he was “honoured” the district had “entrusted me with representation in the Legislative Assembly. I am going to be honest and conduct myself with integrity, and that is what I promise you again tonight. You can rely on that.”
Meanwhile, Arden McLean expressed confidence in the instincts of East End voters.
“The people have trust in me and I feel good about that if nothing else. I have been an advocate in this constituency, in this district, long before I was a politician and I will not stop that.”
East End, he said, was “one big extended family unit. That is how we have always been in this district and I am glad we can always go by someone’s house and have something to eat whether before voting or after voting. East End is too small for us not to do that.
“I have done much and have achieved much for this district in general and for the country as well, but there is still much to be done,” Mr. McLean said. “Rome was not built in a day and there are a number of things to be done in the district. A number of social programmes need to be implemented.
“If they understood me as being ‘The Action Man’, watch me now,’” he said, alluding to his nickname as minister for works during the PPM’s 2005 to 2009 administration.
Perennial East End contender John McLean, conceded the election in mid-evening, saying he was a “graceful loser” and rededicating himself to the people of the area.
“It does not bother me much because it is not about Johnny,” he said. “It is about the people and at the end of the day, the people have spoken, which I respect. I will continue to strive to show they have my full support and they are the representatives.”
“There are certain areas in East End that are together and some that are separated,” John McLean said, “But on a whole we are a peaceful district. God knows that I want to further unite the people without slander and separation.
“My campaign has been clean and I trust the good Lord knows that we deserve this victory,” he added.