Anthony Eden, the political patriarch of Bodden Town district and one of the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly’s longest-serving members, confirmed Monday that he is not planning on seeking elected office next year.
“I’m 71 gone now, I’ve got five grandchildren and I’ve put a lot of time into this [the Legislative Assembly],” Mr. Eden said Monday in an interview with the Cayman Compass.
The Bodden Town member was first elected in 1992 and has been re-elected each time he has stood for office since.
The issue of his political future came up during a reply he made in a debate last week on his motion seeking a referendum regarding same-sex marriages in the territory. Mr. Eden said during the debate that he was not seeking re-election “at this time.”
He confirmed that stance again Monday when asked about it by the Compass.
His pending departure from politics comes at a time when Mr. Eden appears to have gotten an increase in support after his departure from the Progressives political party last year, his subsequent vocal support of traditional marriages and, later, the referendum question.
The Bodden Town MLA said he recognizes that he is riding the crest of a political wave at the moment.
“I’ve never been this popular,” Mr. Eden said. “I’ve never had more calls in my life as a politician [than] in the stand that I’ve taken on [the same-sex marriage issue].”
He has had some relatively serious health problems in recent years and – although he is in good health now – he said he finds himself wanting to spend more time at home with his family instead of arguing in the assembly these days.
“That’s the driving force behind this,” he said.
Mr. Eden is also enough of a political veteran to know that there will be attempts to get him to change his mind before nomination day in March 2017.
“The pressure is there,” he said. “There will be more pressure, especially from the Christian community.”
Mr. Eden still holds political clout within the Legislative Assembly. His departure from the Progressives – of which he was a founding member – prompted the defections of two other government backbenchers shortly afterward.
The three members’ exit left the Progressives-led government with the slimmest of majorities – nine seats to eight – in the assembly.
Talk of a potential early election has died down recently, and the Elections Office has set May 24, 2017 as the general election date. The official nomination day – at which time all candidates must register to stand for office – is set for March 29, 2017.