EE candidates kick off election debates

The three political candidates for East End, Arden McLean, John McLean Jr. and Isaac Douglas Rankine, were the first to participate in the series of pre-election forums starting Monday night and organized by the Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber Chief Executive Officer Wil Pineau noted that the East End event was the only one not being held in the candidates’ constituency. He said the William Allen McLaughlin Civic Centre in East End had been rented for the evening, but technicians found that television signals from there were not being received by the station, located on the other end of the island.

The forum therefore took place in an assembly hall on the campus of Clifton Hunter High School in Frank Sound. It was broadcast over radio and TV and attended by just over two dozen people.

Chamber president Kyle Broadhurst put questions to the candidates and rotated the order in which he asked them to respond. Mr. Pineau advised that each man had two minutes, uninterrupted, in which to speak. He said he would ring a bell when the responder had 30 seconds left.

Questions were submitted by Chamber members in advance and by audience members on the night. They included wide-ranging district and national issues.

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Top issues

Asked to identify the top issue in their district, all three men spoke on different aspects of jobs and unemployment. As his top national issue, Mr. McLean identified education, Mr. Rankine spoke on economic diversity, and Mr. McLean Jr. named employment protection for all Caymanians.

Asked if they would accept a ministerial post if elected, Mr. Rankine said he would like to be able to use his professional expertise in telecommunications, but he would talk the matter over with his committee.

Mr. McLean Jr. opted for “agriculture, sports and roads.”

Mr. McLean declared, “I am extremely capable of handling the premiership of this country.”

Health City expansion

Asked if they would support expansion of Health City (which is located in East End), Mr. Rankine said the facility had some critics, but its operators were in the process of building residences for medical tourism; that meant jobs for East Enders, which he really supported.

Mr. McLean Jr. revealed, “I would not be here if it were not for Health City. Back in November they put a stent in my heart.”

He said he would back the hospital 100 percent; the only problem he saw was that people had to go to George Town for emergencies; he wanted people to be able to go to Health City in an emergency. Mr. McLean reminded his audience that the area where Health City now stands was originally proposed for development as a port. He had told the owner that he would not support that project, but if the land were sold to hospital founder Dr. Devi Shetty, he would support the hospital project. He said he had supported the hospital even before he knew where it would be built.

The candidates were asked their positions on other topics that included gambling and casinos; a cruise ship dock in George Town; permanent residence; fishing restrictions; and what measures they would recommend to reduce the cost of living.

The Tuesday night forum was scheduled to feature North Side candidates, also at the Clifton Hunter High School. Wednesday night is dedicated to the candidates of Bodden Town East and will take place in the James Manoah Bodden Civic Centre.

The candidates are vying for a seat in the Legislative Assembly, with General Elections set for Wednesday, May 24. This will be the first election in Cayman under the “one man, one vote” system, but East End electors have historically had only one vote, based on the district’s population.

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