Crowded field facing off in Bodden Town

Bodden Town candidate Robert Bodden, right, takes the stage Saturday night with supporters Michael Myles, left, and Shawn Morgan. - Photo: Brent Fuller

An unsuspecting tourist may have been forgiven for thinking the entire district of Bodden Town was throwing one big party Saturday night.

Cars jammed the sides of the main road from the public library to Cox Lumber as passing motorists honked their horns and shouted encouragement (or detraction) in the direction of two separate, competing events – announcing the political candidacies of May election hopefuls Dwayne Seymour and Robert Bodden.

Mr. Seymour, a former government minister, and Mr. Bodden, in his first campaign for public office, are among five known candidates competing for an estimated 1,400 votes (before any challenges being heard) in the district of Bodden Town East.

The two men know, along with current Minster Osbourne Bodden and perennial candidates Vincent Frederick and Arnold Berry, they could potentially need only 300-350 votes from constituents to win election to the Legislative Assembly.

“All of the candidates that are running … every one of us grew up within a mile of each other,” Mr. Seymour said.

“The people that I have talked to want change,” Mr. Robert Bodden said. “It’s not as though there’s been a shortage of ministers [representing Bodden Town]. Cayman has grown, but people haven’t necessarily benefited.”

Bodden Town East is not the only local district where a number of candidates, the majority of them independents, are already vying for the next election or considering doing so.

In neighboring Bodden Town West, former government Minister Gilbert McLean and former United Democratic Party Bodden Town Chairman Chris Saunders are running, both as independents. The Progressives and Cayman Democratic Party have not officially named their candidates for this district, but prospective candidates have been discussed by both parties.

Dwayne Seymour speaks to supporters Saturday night outside the Bodden Town Public Library. – Photo: Jewel Levy

In Newlands, independents Alva Suckoo, an incumbent, and Raul Gonzalez have officially joined the race, while local businessman Mario Rankin, also an independent, is considered a likely candidate. The Progressives were expected to run Minister Wayne Panton in the seat, but have not formally announced the party’s plans.

Independent Kent McTaggart is the only announced candidate in Savannah district, but other potential candidates include former MLA Heather Bodden and Bodden Town’s longtime political patriarch Anthony Eden.

Although the political parties’ full candidate list for Bodden Town may not be complete at the moment, the number of independent candidates currently outnumber the known party candidates by more than two-to-one.

Generally, political parties will not run more than one candidate per district in order to avoid splitting supporters’ ballots. However, in some Bodden Town districts, at least one party, the Cayman Democratic Party (formerly the UDP) has said it will back independents. CDP leader McKeeva Bush has said his group would back Mr. Eden if he seeks re-election, as well as Mr. Suckoo. Mr. Robert Bodden is a CDP party candidate.

Both major political parties’ fortunes in Bodden Town have been hit by absences or defections of candidates over the past 18 months. The Progressives lost founding member Mr. Eden and new member Mr. Suckoo toward the end of 2015 in a well-publicized dispute over same-sex unions. Meanwhile, Mr. Seymour and Mr. Saunders both left the CDP/UDP, while former UDP candidates Mark Scotland and Theresa Pitcairn decided not to contest this election.

Bodden Town candidate Robert Bodden, right, takes the stage Saturday night with supporters Michael Myles, left, and Shawn Morgan. – Photo: Brent Fuller

“The parties just can’t find quality candidates,” Mr. Saunders said. “They’re trying to find them, but they haven’t been successful.”

Mr. Saunders believes the Progressives are “pulling back” from Bodden Town district to focus their efforts in the historical party stronghold of George Town.

Mr. Seymour agreed that independent candidates now have a golden opportunity in Cayman’s first capital.

“Normally, the parties would have probably declared by now, started having public campaign meetings … none of that has happened,” Mr. Seymour said. “I think if there’s a chance for independents, it’s now.”

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  1. Standing firm as a committee member to elect Dwayne John John Seymour. A man with vision, experience and trustworthiness. .A man who who can contact any hour of the day or night for the past 25 years. A man who you can call at midnight while he is sleeping and as soon as he sees your call, you will be hearing back from him. A man who cares for the youth of this Town, and believe me they all look up to him. The elderly find him a comfort to talk to, while friends and families adore his loving and passionate ways.
    A man who has worked very hard, with encouragement from a Mother who can be titled #1 Mom in the town. Home grown Bodden Towner, who has displayed respect and caring attitude for all who know him.
    The Launch was one of the BIGGEST I have ever seen in this Bodden Town District ever, and counted about five hundred and more people. I was very encouraged by young team members who are very committed to see Dwayne John John Seymour elected to represent Bodden Town East. We had people out to the campaign launch; that never been out to a political meeting in 30 thirty years. People came out of the woodland and all over, the forgotten areas just to listen to their candidate Dwayne John John Seymour speak.
    Bodden Town definitely need many changes, and we can only achieve that by voting John Dwayne Seymour. A man with a passion, who loves his people, live in this Town and can call everyone by name. A man who listens, and acts on the concerns of the people. The passion that John Dwayne Seymour has for the people of this Bodden Town district and to see things better is high above all imagination. Looking back at Saturday night March the 11th, I can only say WELL DONE JOHN JOHN DWAYINE SEYMOUR , and to the hundreds of people in attendance to support, Thank you; I can see by your turn out and exciting enthusiasm that you are pleased proud and prepared to have Dwayne John John Seymour our leader, elected representative for East Bodden Town.

  2. Ms. VARGAS , I am happy for you to be part of the change for Bodden Town . After the last 4 years of having representation where some don’t care about the people or the district . I would say you have a winning cause and keep it up . Don’t be scared to tell the truth and facts out there on the campaign trail, and tell John John don’t forget to throw and land them knockout punches .

  3. Ron thanks for your support, that really helps in giving us the courage to continue our fight for our district and to lift our spirits to make things better. We have been left behind for four years. Not a thing has been done to take the residence out of the depressing feeling of no work, loosing their homes, cant pay their bills, and nothing happening in the town. No entertainment, only two gas stations, a cemetery and three churches. But worse of all, we have the old parliamentarians want to continue have power, and we have some new faces who do not live in our district, is neither seen in a shop, church or gas station, preaching that they will change things. How can they when we have not seen none of them for five years. John John Dwayne Seymour lives in this town, shops in this town, go to church in this town, and is seen at all events in this town with a great interest in making things better. He is my candidate for May 24th.

  4. I am among the youngest members of Robert Bodden’s campaign team. But, though I lack the experience that my elder committee members possess; I am confident in my ability to also recognize a change in the tides. Mr. Robert has reached out to the youth in Bodden Town East like no one has before. He gave young musicians a stage to perform on, a promising young chef a chance to follow his dreams, and an aspiring politician an opportunity to gaze through the window.
    The intensity behind Mr. Robert’s reach for power, in an effort to finally legitimize the district council is invigorating. Returning ownership to the locals so projects reflect their needs, and thinking beyond four years to realistically bring change. Mr. Robert is under no illusion that issues regarding education, employment, senior citizens, and local development can be approached overnight, but with power and numbers; he is confident change will come.
    Vote Robert Bodden for Bodden Town East on May 25th. Make Bodden Town first again. Tomorrow has to be better than today.

  5. I commend anyone who presents themself to serve in elected public office, as a civic contribution. However, such a step must not be taken lightly. One must realize that, if elected, they are the representative of the people and are there to serve the best interests of the people – not their own interests or those of their friends and cronies. They must realize that they have become a public figure who must live by high standards of personal and professional integrity. They must realize that their constituents and the public at large may not always agree with their position or a position of a Government or Opposition that they might support. They must be professional enough to undertake and accept criticism with honour and dignity; their tenure will not be just about praise for what they might achieve to please their constituents. They must realize and accept that if they are appointed to Cabinet, their constituents are all the peoples of these islands, not just those who may have voted for them. Of course these attributes are only a few which support other requirements of a public representative – the ability to clearly understand and present any position, which requires educating oneself on all aspects of such position; the ability to work with others of a similar position and “across the aisle” when prudent and beneficial for the public; the personal integrity to dissociate themselves from any position which is harmful to the best interests of these islands; diligence in exercising their duty to the public and respect for those who agree, disagree, support or don’t support – generally, respect for others; the personal fortitude and character to not be consumed by the “power” of elected office but to realize that they remain a servant of the people.

    Whomever the people of Bodden Town choose to elect, I trust that they will look for such attributes in their candidate of choice. For the last four years such attributes have been missing from one Bodden Town incumbent representative in particular, who seems to have been smitten by the “power” of elected office, rather than being humbled by the authority of “the peoples office” and has returned the privilege bestowed on him with bullying, insulting, profanity-laced behaviour, while being totally spineless in supporting every move of the present Government, whether or not it benefits the people of Cayman.

    Bodden Towners, please do not cast your votes for anyone like that incimbent!!

  6. Kerith McCoy , I applaud and commend you for writing and understanding the duties and responsibilities of our Elected officials. I hope that other people understand those attributes including honesty and integrity before they cast their vote .
    But when someone earns his name “incompetent” we should not be scared of calling him by his right name Mr Incompetent O Bodden.

    I think that you should take this message to all district’s , call it helping Cayman Islands choose their candidates .

  7. As the campaigns loams, I can see discord between the party support teams just from looking at the thumbs buttons on the comments. I think that we should not deny the truth and facts because it not my Candidate.
    We need to remember that when we’re working to get one elected to represent the District you are also working to have him/her represent the Islands too.

    I think that what we should be doing is trying to put our best men and women candidates together to make the best team for everyone.
    If not, we would end up with the same dysfunctional Government as we have now . We need to remember that a team is much stronger than one player .