'A house divided': A unified vision for the Cayman Islands

The most serious flaw of “one man, one vote” as it is being articulated in the Cayman Islands is that it has been welded to the concept of carving up the country into 18 different “single-member districts,” each containing about 1,000 voters apiece.

Framed in this fashion, the conversation about redistricting and voter equality in Cayman is, in a word, too “divisive.”

Our country’s outsize role in the international sphere — in terms of finance and tourism — should remain at the forefront of the minds of our leaders, who, in order to build upon the “Cayman miracle” of the past half-century, must increasingly orient themselves toward the outside world, as opposed to within their individual historical districts.

Our representatives in the Legislative Assembly should be discussing plans that promote the well-being of Cayman as a whole, not pushing (or suppressing) proposals to the benefit of one district at the expense of others (i.e., “No Dump in Bodden Town”). In the longer run, the best public policies for Cayman cannot be tailored to West Bay or George Town, Bodden Town or East End, North Side or the Sister Islands — the best policies for Cayman are for the people of Cayman, who are one body, indivisible by geographical lines, natural or man-made, seen or unseen.

We are an insular country, bounded by the seas, not by irreconcilable distinctions of culture, history or race. The ideal political system for Cayman should reflect the intimacy and cohesiveness of our population. That implies fewer, larger voting districts — not more numerous, smaller ones, where campaigns could be dominated by parochial appeals, nuances between neighborhoods, or the relative distributions of specific last names; and where election results could be determined by a few well-placed investments from a few well-funded political kingmakers.

The road upon which the Cayman Islands Boundary Commission has embarked, at the direction of the Progressives government, leads in the wrong direction. Rather than breaking up Cayman into 18 (or maybe 19?) tiny districts, the commission should be tasked — if anything — with exploring the merger of the existing six districts, and reducing the number of legislators, many of whom (due to the nature of our parliamentary democracy) serve nary a practical function.

We’re not just talking about East End and North Side, though electoral arithmetic demands they be the first candidates for amalgamation. While some may bandy about the specter of “revolution,” we are speaking seriously about an “evolution” of mind-set and perception.

During a Boundary Commission meeting last week, Bodden Town resident Mary Lawrence (a former Speaker of the House) opposed the idea of allocating an additional legislative seat to the George Town area, saying, “I’m not prepared to give George Town anything. The population is moving out to this area. People are moving out of George Town and West Bay. So, if anyone is going to get another member, it should be us.”

Not only is the basis for Ms. Lawrence’s protestation factually untrue (indeed, all three of Cayman’s large districts are growing), but her “us versus them,” “district against district” mentality is precisely what our country needs to evolve away from.

When discussing redistricting, a guiding concept is the preservation of “communities of interest” — groups of people with similar characteristics and goals who would benefit from having unified political representation.
When it relates to the common future of the 58,000 people who live here, Cayman does not have 19 distinct “communities of interest,” nor 18, nor nine. Cayman should not be assessed as a composition of six separate districts, or as an archipelago of three individual islands.

We are one people, living in one country. In the purest sense of the term, the Cayman Islands has only one “community of interest” — that is, of course, the Cayman Islands.


  1. Why not less , why not 7 members it’s only 7 districts. We could sell the Legislature building in George Town. We could make it into a part of Heroes Park or something of value for the "People of Cayman." The money we could save could feed elderly people for the rest of their lives or pay their medical bills.
    "One man one vote" to me, always meant "One member representing one District".
    Why should it be any other way? What makes any District anymore important then the next? Government will downsize when the people who are working now retire. They will finally agree that we don’t need all the staff that are hired there.
    The cost of living is ridiculous here any everyone knows it . Including the merchants who are making in some cases 300 % profit. While complaining they can’t afford to pay a minimum wage. Then boasting they helped some individual with some problem they should have never had.
    Who and what have the people, who are voted as representatives,done to solve these problems? Helped the Banking , Insurance and Construction companies to push their profits so high that the middle class will never finish paying their loans. The Insurance company will offer health insurance to collect their premium but not pay for pre-existing conditions. Please don’t forget Ivan where they paid only half the money to repair damages done in a 75-100 year hurricane. Do you think they made their money back? Lets not forget ,don’t try to sue them, most law firms think it’s a conflict of interest?
    Construction is so high price that a public high school cost went up to 100 million CI dollar. Gov’t admin. building 130 million and still has space .
    Now with a new law soon to pass for a ice ring and revitalization of GT we will see new residential areas above commerce. At what price?
    In Panama a retired person can get up to 72 % discount on air flights, trains, bus, medical, housing,mortgages,rent,clothing etc,etc. Condos on the ocean start at US$200 thousand . You can be a resident with US$ 200 thousand in the bank. You can be retired at 18.
    Still no East-west to Frank Sound has this project cancelled?
    Will DR. Shetty’s hosp. not need this road also?
    What about the people from the Eastern District?
    Airport needs to be renovated not take more then 6 months so that it is solved by high season, right?
    If we tear out the second floor and put on a new roof it will look brand new. We could build the airport and include the jetways at the same time people are using the airport. ORIA could be kept as a private airport.
    An airport needs to go East , the airport needs to build long runways we need at least two of them for long hauls from Europe. We could build the road and airport at the same time.
    Added economic stimulus to Eastern and western Districts.
    Six months of not enough cruise ships coming to Grand Cayman. How long is this fiasco going to happen before they figure out we need more ships. But we can’t get more unless we build a cruise ship dock. When ?
    32 years has past still nothing happening.

  2. Mr Editor, you seem to be making a simple concept complicated. The fundamentals are simple, each voter should have equal right to elect, and each district should be roughly similar in voter numbers, but with some regard for traditional area boundaries. That is not how it is, so IF you want a fair democracy you must change.
    I must say, your comment this time seems muddled!

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