Candidates vying for the North Side constituency provided mixed views about whether they would work with West Bay West MP McKeeva Bush if he is re-elected to Parliament.
Incumbent MP Ezzard Miller, who has been vocal on his feelings about Bush since his arrest and subsequent conviction for assault, emphatically stated “no” when asked, while others either skirted or avoided the issue all together.
Appearing Monday as part of continuing candidate debates on Rooster 101’s morning show, Cayman Crosstalk, the political hopefuls faced a wide range of questions on community and national issues.
In responding to the question on Bush, newcomer Debra Broderick said, “I would be willing to work with a government once I know it is a good government. I would have to know a lot about those on the government side.”
Justin Ebanks opted not to answer.
However, the largely routine debate among the candidates heated up slightly when Johany (Jay) Ebanks said he was willing to work with the next elected government.
Miller interjected, saying that was not the question that was asked. In response, Ebanks faced Miller, who was sitting next to him in the studio, and said, “If the people of West Bay elect McKeeva Bush back in power and he is there and he is part of the government, I am not going to be like you and sit down in the southeast corner and not work with him.”
The candidates also cited lack of opportunities in the job market for educated Caymanians and the need for a better education system as their top community issues.
Broderick shared her daughter’s experience years ago when she was trying to find work after returning to Cayman with her teaching qualifications.
“When I look at my daughter’s experience I see there are other young people in that same situation and it is wrong. We have to acknowledge our kids, because our kids at the end of the day are leaders of tomorrow and if they cannot get a job in their own country how are they going to lead?” she said.
For Ebanks, housing and employment remain issues for the constituency.
“Everybody is saying the price of land in North Side is getting outrageous… they have to move out of North Side to afford a home, especially the younger ones who are… just getting into jobs right now,” he said.
Miller said it is a problem when Caymanians cannot get a job.
He proposed a moratorium on certain categories of work permits “for which we know Caymanians have been trained and we have to get back to the system of bonding”.
He explained that system was similar to when he got his scholarship and returned to Cayman under a ‘bond’ for six years to work with government. He said once Caymanians attain their qualifications, the entity that provided their scholarships should then employ them for three to five years.
Candidate Justin Ebanks lamented the continuing traffic woes from the eastern districts as a hot button issue.
“We have to look at catering to flex time, [and] different school hours because it is going to be hard for families to get up, get all the kids ready, get to work on time and not be late,” he said.