In some ways, Cayman Islands Governor-designate Helen Kilpatrick is quite a bit more prepared for the wrangling of internal government administration than her predecessor.
That’s according to said predecessor, outgoing Governor Duncan Taylor, who leaves Grand Cayman on Wednesday evening for London prior to taking up his ambassador’s post with the UK government in Mexico.
“Actually, as a diplomat, [the Cayman Islands governor’s] job is very, very different. Fundamentally different,” Mr. Taylor said. “There’s a lot of direct responsibility, as a diplomat, there generally isn’t.”
Governor Taylor said during his “exit interview” last week that he had quite a bit of influence over matters such as security and policing, the government service and foreign policy. The responsibility for appointments to various government boards and commissions is also something a bit foreign to a career diplomat, he said.
“The experience I’ve had before, I don’t want to say it wasn’t relevant, but it wasn’t a direct rehearsal for what I’m doing here,” Mr. Taylor said.
The outgoing governor’s remarks seemed something of an attempt to soften the way for incoming Governor Kilpatrick, who has never worked in a UK foreign office posting in the Caribbean or anywhere else, for that matter. Ms Kilpatrick is expected to arrive on 6 September.
What she has done over the past decade was serve in a leadership role in the UK’s Home Office, the branch of government generally responsible for security and immigration matters.
In the Cayman Islands, the UK-appointed governor has ultimate responsibility for internal and external security.
“I think you’ll find that the competencies in the sort of job that Helen is doing right now and what she will face [in Cayman] will actually not be dissimilar,” Mr. Taylor said.
There would be a “significant adaptation” for Ms Kilpatrick coming from the central government service in the UK to a small island territory in the Caribbean. Some diplomatic skills are required, Mr. Taylor said.
“Engaging with people and listening to people and trying to get them to see things your way are skills that do fine in this job, but they also apply in the very challenging job that Helen Kilpatrick has in London,” Mr. Taylor said.
Manderson in charge
For the next 30 days or so – Ms Kilpatrick’s arrival date had not been fixed as of press time Tuesday – Deputy Governor Franz Manderson will lead Cayman as acting governor.
It’s the first time Mr. Manderson will have to lead the territory for an entire month, although he has filled in as governor before in Mr. Taylor’s absence.
Mr. Manderson said he felt the appointment to be “an honour and a privilege” and said he considered Mr. Taylor to be something of a mentor.
Education Ministry Chief Officer Mary Rodrigues will fill in as acting deputy governor, a key role, particularly if Cayman should encounter any serious tropical weather in the next month.
“Mrs. Rodrigues will take the lead in this area,” Mr. Manderson said. “I will only become involved if a major storm poses a threat to the islands.”