Unsuccessful MPs weigh their political futures

For former West Bay Central MP Capt. Eugene Ebanks, his defeat at the polls signalled the end of his political career, and a broader change in Cayman’s political landscape. A veteran politician, Ebanks had previously won five consecutive elections. Now he is calling it a day.

“I will not be running again,” Ebanks told the Cayman Compass.

Capt. Eugene Ebanks File photo.

He was ousted by new MP Katherine Ebanks-Wilks, whom he had previously defeated in the 2017 general election.

Ebanks was not the only incumbent to lose his seat. In surprise defeats, Ezzard Miller of North Side and Arden McLean of East End, were ousted by first-time MPs Jay Ebanks, and Isaac Rankine, respectively.

The removal from office of these three veterans in many respects signals the end of an era and the beginning of another.

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During Ebanks’ tenure, he was a staunch supporter of fellow West Bay representative McKeeva Bush, serving primarily as a backbencher across both sides of the aisle. During his 20 years in office, Ebanks was never a Cabinet minister.

Arden McLean file photo.

Like Ebanks, McLean was first elected to office in November 2000, and has served five consecutive terms, on both government and opposition benches.

In 2005, he was minister for communications and infrastructure and, most recently, served as the leader of the Opposition.

Miller was first elected in 1984, only losing his seat two times, once to the late Edna Moyle, and now to Jay Ebanks.

When asked about his political future, Miller said it was too early to decide whether he will contest the 2025 elections.

For now, he said, he would “simply respect the wishes of the North Side people”.

Miller has also served on government and opposition benches during this time in office, and most recently was a member of the official Opposition.

Another long-serving politician who has bowed out is former Savannah representative Anthony Eden.

Eden was first elected to office in 1992, serving as a Cabinet minister three times, including the portfolios of health and human services.

Like McLean, Eden was a founding member of the People’s Progressive Movement, (now known as the Progressives). Both men eventually split with the group and joined forces with the Opposition. Eden did not contest the 2021 elections.

Ezzard Miller file photo.

Miller, McLean and Eden were all part of the last group of lawmakers to sit as members of the Legislative Assembly, as well as being among the first MPs. They originally served as MLAs under the then multi-member constituency system, and eventually retained their seats under the single-member constituency system currently in place.

For each of the three newcomers taking up the seats vacated by Ebanks, Miller and McLean, this was their second election, all having lost their bids in 2017. They each secured their seats this year by taking more than 50% of the votes in their respective constituencies.

While the three first-time legislators replaced three veterans, the status quo in Parliament remains largely unchanged. Of the 19 MPs that were elected, 12 were incumbents, and seven were successful challengers.

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