Although the 2017 general election is still nearly two years away, behind-the-scenes efforts to form a third political party or group have been taking place for most of this summer, the Cayman Compass has learned.
Whether this new third political entity will take off in time for the May 2017 election remains in question, but candidate recruiting attempts have been under way since at least May.
Email notices for the group, seen by the Cayman Compass, listed potential candidates for recruitment in George Town district as local businessmen Garth Arch, Stefan Baraud, Johann Moxam and Walling Whittaker, among others. Additional potential candidates identified by operatives of the group noted that former MLA Mike Adam and former political candidate Kenneth Bryan would also be approached. Of the candidates contacted by the Compass, Mr. Arch and Mr. Moxam indicated they would consider a potential run for office at some stage, while Mr. Bryan has stated his intention to seek office again in 2017 in the district of George Town. The others either did not return Compass calls or were noncommittal.
One of the key organizers for the new group, former United Democratic Party Bodden Town district chairman Chris Saunders, said he was keen to recruit and put together a “strong group of like-minded individuals” to form a new government following the 2017 vote.
Mr. Saunders said he “refused to stay” in the former UDP, now known as the Cayman Islands Democratic Party, after the 2013 vote in which he was an unsuccessful candidate. He said general dissatisfaction with Cayman’s two main political parties led him to collaborate on the current recruitment effort.
“The parties are so interchangeable … they’re two sides of the same coin and [the coin] is losing its value,” Mr. Saunders said.
One potential recruit for the new political group, potentially as its titular head, is former House Speaker and government minister Linford Pierson. Mr. Pierson, 74, has so far declined to speak publicly about his plans – if any – for 2017.
However, Mr. Saunders said he was keen to recruit Mr. Pierson to the team as an elder statesman to lead a group of younger political office-seekers.
The group, which has not officially selected its name, has not yet filed with the Cayman Islands Elections Office in order to form a new political party as is now required by the constitution.
Mr. Saunders said the group’s general political vision would be one for a unified Cayman Islands, rather than one of divisiveness, which he said has too often plagued the political landscape over the past two decades.
“Caymanians today are of diverse backgrounds and nationalities and unless we can recognize and accept that, we’re going to fail as a people,” he said.
Despite being keen on the recruiting effort, Mr. Saunders said he wanted to ensure there were enough strong candidates in the political group ahead of 2017 to win and to form a government. He said he had no interest in the group members “sitting on the back-bench” or the opposition benches.
“We won’t run a campaign unless we can put together a proper group,” he said.