While the People’s Progressive Movement leads Cayman’s government, the election shows that it has yet to make any inroads in West Bay.
During last week’s general elections, the PPM failed to gain a single seat in the district and none of its candidates produced a top five finish.
But PPM candidate Ray Farrington stated that, in spite of the defeat, he believes the party will still be visible in the area.
“The Progressives will endeavour to keep their presence in West Bay active to allow interaction with the populace to continue,” Mr. Farrington said. “We would simply like to say a big thank you to all persons who supported and voted for our team members. We are indeed humbled by this support and have had quite a lot of feedback congratulating us on running a clean campaign, which focused on solutions.”
This was the first election in which the PPM fielded a team of candidates in West Bay.
Political newcomer Woody DaCosta had the most support of the group with 855 votes, which landed him in seventh place out of 14 candidates. Mr. 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, the district will play a central role in the coming months.
“We plan to bring our leader [Alden McLaughlin] to West Bay to meet the people and reassure them that we got their backs,” Mr. Ebanks said. “McKeeva has been around because West Bayers are loyal people and I feel the results are like the start of a mourning process as the people break away from their dependency syndrome.
“We will ensure West Bayers get all the love and care they need and never turn to that man again. We’re in a position with a lot of influence and people behind us so we will do a lot for the people of West Bay.”
All of the PPM candidates fell well short of gaining any of the four West Bay seats. Former Premier and United Democratic Party leader McKeeva Bush, with 1,583 votes, was elected as the first member from West Bay, where he has served for the past three decades. In second place was Coalition for Cayman-endorsed independent candidate Tara Rivers, with 1,483 votes.
Following them was the UDP’s Bernie Bush, who secured a seat for the first time in the Legislative Assembly with 1,460 votes and veteran UDP lawmaker Captain Eugene Ebanks, with 1,307 votes.
Mr. Farrington said his party’s inability to break 12 years of the UDP stranglehold over the four seats in West Bay had a lot to do with the popularity of Ms Rivers.
“The Progressives’ failure in West Bay may have come down to the number of candidates contesting the election. The voters who wanted change had quite a choice and therefore spread their votes around quite a bit, with Ms Rivers being a common denominator in the choice and she is to be congratulated on her effort.
“We also felt that there was still significant influence by the usual underhand activities of some candidates and their key supporters.”
Ms Rivers would go on to hold a political meeting in the district on Monday at which the populace urged her to accept a ministerial position in the PPM government. By taking a post in Cabinet, Ms Rivers figures to be the only non-PPM representative in government. Asked what ministerial portfolio she had been offered, Ms Rivers said Monday she had been offered her choice of posts.
Meanwhile, McKeeva Bush has said he harboured great hopes for the UDP, forecasting a strong future for the group despite the end of its stranglehold on political power in West Bay. In particular, Mr. Bush said that Bernie Bush was one of the UDP’s hopes for the future as a young, capable lawmaker, the sort of candidate the former premier had sought to recruit.
Mr. Farrington said, regardless of where Ms Rivers and the UDP figure into the new government, the right leadership is in place.
“While we are disappointed by the results of the Progressives team in West Bay, we are very pleased that the UDP stranglehold has been broken. We feel that we contributed to this. While we may have lost the contest in West Bay, we did win the battle for the country.
“We are, therefore, very happy that the majority of voters opted to reject the suspect practices and politics of the past four years and elected a government that will restore confidence, respectability and transparency to the governance of our country,” he said.
With half the seats in the Legislative Assembly, the PPM now moves on to finalise the roles and positions within Cayman’s government and tackle some of the issues highlighted during its campaign trail.
Bryan Ebanks said the first order of business will be tackling the cost of living.
“The first initiative is to form the government and go about lightening the burden of the people. We’ll use the manifesto as the way to go forward. We know the cost of living is killing us so the first thing would be to reduce the costs of fuel.
“It’s up to the new government to see the benefits of this. You must make sure good results are delivered. From there, you can deal with unemployment. It all goes down to how many things they have to deal with and there’s no easy way to prioritise them. Our party will have the opportunity to prove itself to the people of Cayman.”