District: West Bay South
Current profession: Businessman
Email: [email protected]
Interview with Burns Rankin
Kayla Young: This is the Cayman Compass with independent candidate Burns Rankin for the constituency of West Bay South. Mr. Rankin, please introduce yourself and tell us why you are running for the legislative assembly.
Burns Rankin: My name is Burns Rankin. I am running in the constituency of West Bay South. I was born and raised in West Bay South, so the majority of people there – older, younger, my age – they know me. I grew up there. I was a merchant seaman, traveled all over the world. I was mainly in tourism most of my life, been in tourism for over 44 years. Before I finished high school, I was in tourism. Tourism is a passion for me to continue, develop and get much bigger in the Cayman Islands.
Kayla Young: What is the most important issue facing your district?
Burns Rankin: The most important issue facing my district right now is unemployment. Young people need to find jobs. Young people, middle-aged people need to be re-tooled. Our young people at this day and age, in this technology world, are coming out of school, cannot read and write, can’t get a job in the construction industry or any type of technical field. I think that should be part of a curriculum. Before I got into high school – I do not know how many of you are familiar with Annex? I went there from primary school in West Bay before John Cumber was built. It was just a town hall. I went into there for a couple of years. I learned trade in that school, carpentry work, auto mechanics. When I got into high school, I could do carpentry work. I could do motor mechanics. And I took up a trade. I went on to become an electrician. That work was done … by a gentlemen here in the district of George Town who this government, the PPM, has never supported. His technical school he wanted to start, he brought many guys out. He’s the same guy that I went out to work with, sat in his classroom, and today I am a master electrician. I can work on any job in the Cayman Islands.
Kayla Young: What would you say is the most important issue facing Cayman as a whole?
Burns Rankin: The most important issue facing the Cayman Islands as [a] whole is our people need to be placed in jobs like tourism. The construction industry is not so bad, but especially tourism. When people come here, they come to see Caymanians. They want to see a Caymanian open the door for them. Not against any other nationality, they will tell you that. When they come here, they want to see a Caymanian. They want to see people from the Philippines, they go to the Philippines. If they want to see the door opened for them, they go to Argentina. That is what’s happening today. These guys are in these positions because of cheap labor in this country. I have nothing against foreign labor coming in but they should be paid equally. Everybody should be paid a living wage across the board. It does not matter where you are from. That is why Caymanians are not involved in the tourism industry because they are underpaid.
Kayla Young: What is something that Cayman is doing right and how would you continue that?
Burns Rankin: Right now we are expanding our airport, which is a very good thing. We have to continue that. We have to extend the runways so they can accommodate transatlantic flights, [so] that we can have not only a busy winter season, but [also a busy] summertime. We can have people coming from all over the world to visit the Cayman Islands. It does not just have to be winter, because our tourism season mainly depends from November to May or June. After that the peak’s down. We want to have a continuous flow, at least 50 to 60 percent of hotel room [occupancy] rates throughout the year.
We need a cruise berthing facility. We lose between 12,000 and 18,000 visitors per week on the mega-ships that go to places like Cozumel, Labadee, Haiti, Jamaica. They skip us because we do not have the facilities. I understand the previous government was in the works of getting a cruise berthing facility in George Town harbor, which I am not 110 percent for because it’s a very dangerous place.
Cayman has produced the best sea captains in the world and I would personally take their advice wherever they tell me to put that cruise berthing facility. They have made it clear George Town is not the perfect place for it.
Kayla Young: If elected, what’s your top priority on day one?
Burns Rankin: My top priority is to get our young people into trade schools, into the tourism industry. It does not matter, you could be a waiter, waitress, bartender, whatever. They have to learn the value of tourism. You do not just look at what you are making per hour. Look at the service you’re providing. One day if you want to own your own business, a restaurant business for example, you must know how to scrub the floors, clean the toilets, peel potatoes. Everything in that restaurant you must be capable of doing. You cannot start from the top. You have to start from the bottom. The only job you start from the top is when you’re drilling for oil.
Kayla Young: Mr. Rankin, thank you for coming to visit us and providing this opportunity for voters.