Political hopefuls looking to secure the Newlands vote say traffic, infrastructure, cost of living and healthcare are the main issues facing their constituents.
Incumbent MP Alva Suckoo, former MLA Wayne Panton, Raul Gonzalez and Roydell Carter squared off on Cayman Crosstalk’s 16th district debate on Tuesday 6 April.
Each candidate was asked what they considered to be the most important issue for their constituency.
Suckoo noted that Newlands has experienced a rapid population growth, which has placed a strain on existing infrastructure.
“When you say infrastructure, a lot of people think roads, but roads is one part of it” said Suckoo. “We have a great need for a flood management solution because Newlands is low-lying and we do have persistent flooding. So, in my view, infrastructure really jumps out as the top area that needs to be addressed immediately.”
Panton, who was beaten to the Newlands seat by Suckoo in the 2017 general election, agreed that infrastructure was a major issue. However, he stated traffic and safety were issues that also needed to be addressed immediately.
“Hirst Road, instead of 30 milers per hour, it should be 25, as a traffic calming measure,”
said Panton. “We need to have proper sidewalks in place to accommodate the number of people utilising that road.”
He added, “The traffic issues translate both in the evening and in the morning, and the way to address that really is through, firstly, addressing our public transport system. I think we also need to electrify our public transport system and government needs to subsidise that.”
Gonzalez, who also ran as a candidate for the district in 2017, outlined several issues including cost of living, unemployment, flooding, traffic issues and community safety as the main areas he hoped to address if elected.
“It’s a lot of things we have to address for the Newlands community,” said Gonzalez. “Also, we need clinics, an ambulance, a fire truck and a police substation. From ICCI to Countryside, we need to address that road.”
Carter, the former Department of Environmental Health director, acknowledged that there were some recent improvements to the roads and infrastructure in Newlands, however, he believed the issues plaguing the roadway were long term, and that more could be done to address them.
“With regards, to the main road, Hirst Road, into Newlands yes that is a big issue,” he said.
“It takes all the traffic coming into the Newlands constituency, and I am willing to explore different options coming into and out of Newlands other than Hirst Road.”
He said health was the main issue he would address.
“They need to review the health legislation and make it more universally comprehensive for the constituents.”