Cayman Islands Governor Helen Kilpatrick has confirmed that she will “opt” for a four-year term as official head of state in the islands, meaning her time in office will extend to September 2017.
Ms. Kilpatrick, who arrived in Cayman to take up the governor’s post in early September 2013, had the option of taking either a three- or four-year term, according to U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials. If she selected a three-year stint, she would have been departing this fall.
The governor’s office will be losing its current chief of staff, Gary Benham, who is departing Cayman in July this year, and Cayman’s local government is entertaining the thought of a general election anywhere between the last quarter of 2016 to May 2017.
Ms. Kilpatrick’s term extension means, barring unforeseen circumstances, she will be present through the next government election cycle and will welcome in Mr. Benham’s replacement with some time to spare.
The four-year contract extension has become fairly typical for Cayman’s last few governors, replacing the previous trend of a three-year stint prior to retirement from the U.K. government service.
Former Governor Duncan Taylor received an extra year on his contract, but departed several months early to take up the Mexican ambassador post for the U.K. government. Former Governor Stuart Jack served between November 2005 and December 2009.
Prior to that, four Cayman governors – Bruce Dinwiddy, Peter Smith, John Owen and Michael Gore – served between three- to three-and-a-half-year terms.
Governor Kilpatrick’s term extension means she will also likely preside over the appointment of the British Overseas Territory’s next commissioner of police. Current Commissioner David Baines recently announced his departure from the police service at the end of May.
The governor was also expected to announce the appointment of Cayman’s next auditor general. Former Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick left Cayman in October 2015 and an acting auditor general has been filling in the role since that time.
Also uncertain is the future of the other independent offices appointed by the governor, which have been functioning with acting directors since the retirement of Information Commissioner Jennifer Dilbert and Complaints Commissioner Nicola Williams. The governor’s office has said it is awaiting a Cabinet decision on the proposed merger of those two entities and appointment of a “super ombudsman” to shepherd both offices in the future.