Rivers breaks UDP West Bay stronghold

After 12 years of the United Democratic Party holding all four seats in West Bay, Coalition for Cayman-endorsed independent candidate Tara Rivers broke the party’s stranglehold by winning a seat in Wednesday’s general election. 

Former Premier and UDP leader McKeeva Bush, with more than 47 per cent of the vote, was elected as the first member from West Bay, where he has served for the past three decades. In second place was Ms Rivers, with 1,483 votes, amounting to 44.28 per cent of the ballots cast, followed by the UDP’s Bernie Bush, who secured a seat for the first time in the Legislative Assembly, and veteran UDP lawmaker Captain Eugene Ebanks. 

Although the results show that the UDP still have strong support in West Bay, Ms Rivers said the results showed that the district is “ready for change”.  

“Change has been delivered and I am happy that I could be that change agent that the country and the district needed at this time,” she said. 

She added that the issues facing Cayman, in many instances, “can be attributed to lack of leadership” and that hers was a “solutions-driven campaign”. 

“I was confident that I could get a seat. I couldn’t predict where it would be. I felt I would be one of the representatives and I am happy the community validated that belief,” she said.  

Asked whether the troubles of McKeeva Bush had affected the result, she said: “I think I was able to stand on my own merits, irrespective of who else was campaigning in this election. I think my success demonstrated that many people in West Bay voted based on merit.” 

Her Coalition for Cayman running mate Mervin Smith also had a strong showing, winning 1,065 votes behind UDP candidate Velma Hewitt-Powery’s 1,072 votes, putting him in sixth place, but not giving him nor Ms Hewitt-Powery enough votes to be among the four elected candidates. 

Incumbent legislator Cline Glidden who, along with his People’s National Alliance colleague Rolston Anglin, lost his West Bay seat, said he believed that the pair’s poor showing in the election was a result of running afoul to both UDP supporters and the anti-UDP faction. 

Mr. Glidden placed 11th among the 14 West Bay candidates, while Mr. Anglin, with 782 votes, finished eighth. 

“The situation was a double whammy for us. People who wanted an alternative to Mr. Bush and the UDP saw that we were with him for three years and seven months … Those people still saw us as UDP,” said Mr. Glidden, adding that the “die-hard UDP supporters” were never going to vote for him and Anglin because of their defection from the party. 

Mr. Glidden and Mr. Anglin, along with Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, Dwayne Seymour and Mark Scotland broke away from the UDP and set up the PNA following a vote of no confidence in then-Premier Mr. Bush in December. Ms O’Connor-Connolly, who became premier after Mr. Bush was forced to step down, is the only PNA member to retain her Legislative Assembly seat when she was returned in the Sister Islands. 

Mr. Bush could not be reached for comment by press time Thursday, but in a message to his supporters on Facebook, he wrote: “Thank you all for your support and returning me for another four years to continue to serve the people of the Cayman Islands. I will do my best job!” 

The People’s Progressive Movement, which fielded a team of candidates for the first time in West Bay in this election, may have won half the seats in the Legislative Assembly, but the party failed to make a dent in West Bay, securing no seats. 

Woody DaCosta had the most support of the group with 855 votes, which landed him seventh. Ray Farrington was ninth with 671 votes, Dalkeith Bothwell was 10th with 650 votes and Captain Bryan Ebanks was 12th with 552 votes. 

Bryan Ebanks said that although his party faltered in West Bay, it was a successful elections on a whole. “I hoped to have done better than I did but that’s beside the point,” he said. “It can always be better but we accomplished what we wanted to do. Our party is in power.  

“The important thing is we curtailed that dictator McKeeva and his party that has run West Bay for years. Mac is no longer in business, it’s him, two guys and no more.” 

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