Current profession: MLA
Interview with Alva Suckoo
Spencer Fordin: Hi, this is Spencer Fordin with the Cayman Compass. I’m here with Alva Suckoo who is running independent in the district of Newlands in the May 2017 elections. Mr. Suckoo, could you please introduce yourself and tell us why you’re running for the legislative assembly?
Alva Suckoo: My name is Alva Suckoo. I am a candidate in the electoral district of Newlands and I am now contesting a seat for my second term as an MLA. I think I’ve created quite a relationship for myself as a representative who stands up for the people and who at times has gone against party lines and severe opposition to my positions. But I have always made a point to do what’s best for the country and what’s best for the people. I’ve had the unique opportunity of actually being an MLA who has served time on the opposition side of the house and also on the government side. I served first as a government side, acted for ministers on many occasions and had ministerial responsibilities as a councillor.
“I then moved to the opposition side of the legislature and that gave me the opportunity to learn things from a new perspective from being in opposition. That was a rare opportunity – and I call it an opportunity – for a first-time member of government to actually experience both sides. I think that equips me to better handle and be able to be aware of the issues that face both sides in the legislature. I have bachelor’s degree in computer science. I now have an MBA from Syracuse University. I’m a proud father of two beautiful daughters and try to spend as much time as possible with them.
“I am committed to my district and I think many of my constituents know that I am the person who is considered to be on the ground and always available as much as possible. I’m always involved in the lives and the issues faced by my constituents. So I think I’m eminently now qualified to move forward in politics. I’m seeking a second term and I really want to promote myself as a potential member of the cabinet this time around in the new administration.”
Spencer Fordin: “What’s the most important issue facing your district?”
Alva Suckoo: “I’d say the most important issue facing Bodden Town as a whole is the lack of focus in infrastructure. Over the past few years, I have battled with a lot of issues in terms of flooding, draining in certain areas such as Bayfield Crescent, the lack of street lighting for example along the Newlands bypass. There is no street lighting. It’s a dangerous strip of road at night. We need to expand the schools. Our student population is fast outpacing the development of school facilities. That in addition to resources in the schools is critical. We also don’t have hurricane shelter space in the district. We need to focus on that. That is something we really need to work on because we don’t have Cat Five hurricane protection for shelters.”
Spencer Fordin: “And what’s the most important issue facing the Cayman Islands as a whole?”
Alva Suckoo: “The most important issue, and again there are many, but I think it’s the disappearing middle class. We have built two very strong pillars in our economy: Tourism and financial services. But we did not equip our people to participate fully in those and take ownership in those. So what has happened now is the average take-home pay of the average Caymanian is starting to reduce. The number of people earning less than $2400 a month is increasing year by year, and I’m taking that from the ESO statistics. The cost of living obviously and everything else plays a role, so our middle class is slowly disappearing into poverty. I think that’s something we need to address.”
Spencer Fordin: “What’s something that Cayman is doing right and how would you continue that?”
Alva Suckoo: “I think the management of our tourism product in the Seven Mile Beach area/West Bay road area, we’ve done a good job. We need to continue that effort into the Eastern districts. The Eastern districts have not had the attention and focus for tourism, and that is where I plan to make a lot of changes. We need to revise Go East initiative that was talked about so long ago, revamp it, modernize it. But we need to focus on developing tourism in the Boddentown area, East end, North side. But not using the same stencil that we’ve used in other areas. The eastern districts are ripe for and there are opportunities for equal tourism, boutique hotels, bed and breakfast establishments. And that’s what we need to focus, but we need to provide incentives so people can invest in those things, and in doing that, help themselves. My dream for Bodden Town as a whole district is that our people no longer need to go to George Town to work, to go to school, to socialize. We need to bring some life back to Bodden Town, and the only way to do that is to focus on development in the district. But with a plan. We need to have a well crafted plan.”
Spencer Fordin: “If elected, what’s your top priority on Day One?”
Alva Suckoo: “My top priority on Day One is going to be restoring hope. I think that overall our people have lost confidence in our government. They don’t feel that the government is there looking out for them. The opportunities are not there for them. We’re not focused enough on education. Our young people are not getting opportunities. We’ve completely overlooked the need for technical and vocational programs for our young people. Again, the middle class is disappearing into poverty. People are losing homes. We have kids in my district who go to school hungry on a daily basis. Those things are not the hallmarks of a successful and progressive country, a country that is looking after its citizens, looking after its people, looking after its young and its old. So my focus has to be on communicating and doing natural actions that the country now has a government that is there for the people. And that they’re going to be our number one priority.”