Chasing candidates as election looms

| 14/03/2017

Cayman News ServiceWendy Ledger writes: It seems incomprehensible. Here I am, pencils sharpened, note books at the ready, statistics calculated, questions honed, but I can barely find a candidate for love nor money. The May 2017 General Election will be the fourth election I have covered as a reporter in the Cayman Islands, and given that this is the country’s first go at ‘one man, one vote’ in single-member constituencies, I was excited in a nerdy journo kinda way.

But so far, finding out where people plan to run has been, as the Australians are wont to say, like trying to pin a kangaroo down on a trampoline.

Yes, unbelievable as it may seem, I’m struggling to get candidates to talk. If I didn’t know better (because, of course, everyone knows I’m really an MI6 spy), I’d think they had all signed the Official Secrets Act.

My frustrations over ‘hunt the candidate’ are bad enough but I’m worried that all this dodging and weaving and tactical secrecy about admitting where they plan to run and trying desperately hard to control their non-message might result in an unintelligible outpouring of ‘pent-up talking’ after Nomination Day, and that following this self-enforced limited campaigning they will then be drowning me with information and sending voters running for the hills long before polling day.

But if the voters hang on in there — and given that the only hill they can run to is Mount Trashmore, there’s a good chance they might — the real question we need to ask about this reticence on decision-making is about genuine representation.

I get the idea of tactics and, hey, politicians are wily creatures who generally want to win, otherwise they would not be in the game. And let’s face it, all of the would-be politicians really want to know where the incumbents are running and who else may be on the party tickets before jumping into the fray,

But the reasons why people supported OMOV in SMCs in Cayman — and some fought really hard for it — wasn’t just about voter equity but also the benefits of constituents knowing who their MLAs were and holding them accountable. Even more attractive to voters was the concept of a representative with their constituents’ interests at heart, a dedication to the needs of the specific district they represent and a connection to that community.

If people are just waiting to see who is running where, voters must ask themselves, do these reluctant candidates really have the best interests of their potential voters at heart? Or is it really about winning somewhere — anywhere — so they can claim a green leather chair in which to play Candy Crush in comfort at last?

Hats off, I say, to Kenneth Bryan, who was the first candidate out of the gate, even though he may end up with one of the hardest fights, potentially going head-to-head with the premier or the veteran vote-magnet, Kurt Tibbetts. But he didn’t shrink from the likely David and Goliath political battle; Bryan wanted to represent the people of George Town Central and to him that was the most important part of his decision to run.

But too many others have waited until the eleventh hour.

While they may have been campaigning on a superficial low-key level, their lack of specifics has undermined their credibility. With the usual bland clichés, criticising of incumbents and a paucity of real policies, it’s hard to see how after Nomination Day in just eight weeks, many of the candidates will have enough time to get to grips with the need for a comprehensive political package for the constituencies that they finally plump for.

More importantly, it’s hard to see how, given the huge number of independents, they intend to deliver. No matter what they promise, unless they have ten political chums who also support that political package, they can’t deliver anything.

But that’s a whole other story. Watch this space.


Category: Election Viewpoint

Comments (34)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Maybe they should be stepping up…and if we take the Dutch result yesterday, there is in my mind the proof that if you actually all get out and vote, you can change something. But as the Dutch PM pointed out, don’t go for the wrong kind of patriotism-it will come back and bite you on the ass.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ideally, it would be nice to hear the details of policies that could improve the Cayman Islands. Hopefully, those efforts would then trickle down to everyday, hardworking people. For such a small country, this ideal position seems achievable.

    One roadblock to success is that some people dont appear to cast a vote based on policy. They seem to vote according to party lines. This seems to be true for voters over 30. The vote tends to be for the same party that their families voted for over the years. Those 30 and under appear to be taking a different, more considered approach based on their belief that a candidate will do as he says and not just say what needs to be said to get elected.

    Another roadblock to success is a lack of accountability shown by elected officials. They seem untouchable once in power. Answerable to no one. So, they line their pockets with gold, while people are suffering. High cost of living. Growing crime. Depleted culture and heritage. Mental health concerns. Growing prison population. Lack of role models for the youth. Failed public education system. The issues grow and younger generations are forced to deal with them.

    Cayman could fix all of these things if Caymanians decided that it was ok to work together all the time like they do in the face of a Hurricane. In that single moment, we see the Caymanian spirit. Strong people. Cayman could have amazing results if Caymanians worked together like this all year round. Caymanians are amazing people. I hope Caymanians can continue to see how wonderful they are, but at the same time make government accountable for its actions and, if necessary, replacing bad actors with good people at the relevant time. Caymanians also have to stand up for themselves. People in other countries cry out in one loud public voice and take action in their best interests and the interests of their country when they are subject to an ill economic, social or religious fate. Caymanians could learn a lot from that. That is, to say, it is perfectly fine to stand up for what you believe in and then fight for it. If there is no fight, then a continued, negative result is inevitable. You do not have to conclude that you will always be poor and in a downward spiral. You can fight. Doing what is right and fighting for that right is all that makes a difference.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Some of you are going to laugh at this, but here a few things to consider.
    People are desperate for change and the only way this is going to happen is if Alden and McKeeva are destroyed at the polls.
    If the East Enders and North Siders smell blood, they will return Ezzard and Arden.

    Both of these men are seasoned resisters (at least verbally anyway). Of the two, Arden has the vitality to lead a coalition of newbies with Ezzard providing a supporting role.

    My only hope hope is that the Brackers first of all get some fresh blood, and secondly dump the useless incumbents, one of whom is convinced of an impending premiership. Arsenal and Manchester, maybe, but not Cayman. Sorry Bobo.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah casinos coming to Cayman Brac. Number sellers going to be put out of business.

    • Anonymous says:

      Fresh blood for the Cayman Islands in general is great. Unfortunately those looking for a retirement plan or for entitlement are not the answer.

    • Anonymous says:

      that’s the worst thing that could happen to Cayman to be led from the East uh no!!!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Last election the candidates were pounding down on the doors. Coming around the neighborhoods. Introducing themselves. Walking on the streets even if it was socially for exercise.

    I haven’t seen one yet. Are these new candidates no longer interested in meeting the voters? Are these independents with the exception of a few too good/scared/unprepared to visit the voters?

    I remember growing up attending the meetings with my parents. Not just for a particular party but to listen to what they had to say. To determine whether they had the ability to address a crowd. To understand whether they had the charisma that a politician needs to have and still be able to have ideas that can progress the country.

    I do not see that passion with the politicians now. There are a few. A minority few that have visited their constituents and held meetings that are meaningful. Where is the energy that a politician should have and the passion to show that they want to really make a change for the better. Rather than strategizing about winning.

    A good candidate will win based on their ideas they put forward and the ability to guide the people. A consistent presence in the community and timeless efforts of concern for their fellow man, that will win. Hiding in the darkness to win because it is by default that no one else ran in your constituency is a pathetic winner.

  5. Vote For Me! says:

    I wouldn’t worry your little head about it. Its a one cycle issue. They will all become so entrenched in their little enclaves afterwards thst everything will quickly be back to normal.

  6. Anonymous says:

    It’s possible they don’t think their constituents read CNS.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Well, they are required yet to declare where they are going to run. I understand the critique but if they aren’t required to declare and they haven’t then we all just have to be patient and ensure that once they declare we can do our due diligence. CNS isn’t exactly know for unbiased reporting of news so I’d be wary of interviewing too. The reality is I read many articles on here that make it abundantly clear you are displeased with something someone said or did and it detracts from the reporting.

    • Anonymous says:

      I feel ya but I do think this needs to be changed. They should be required to declare at least 8 months prior to nomination day. The only plus is the current method gives them less time to blow smoke up our asses and many ppl get confused by the sweet talk (since we have such bad memories) and fall for the same $hit over and over.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Cayman politicians are like Salamanders: preferring cool, dark, mossy crevices and unable to withstand full sunlight or the heat of scrutiny. They’ll crawl out to preen and maybe tussle for spectators just before the polls. Until then, they’re asleep under rocks hoping to avoid easy predation. After the election they will return to their caverns and collect benefits and perks of office. If there was any other species thinking of running for office, we would all welcome it.

  9. V says:

    I was never for OMOV. It distracts from the idea of making the country better. It is myopic and limited.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Remember the turtle and the hare. It should be about who is the best candidate, not about who is first out of the gate. My choice would be someone who is accomplished in life and is very reluctant to become a politician. I would rather that my MLA is someone who only gets involved because there is a clear for their skill set and not someone inexperienced or looking at the LA as a type of retirement.

  11. Anonymous says:

    The truth is many candidates have nothing of importance. For many is only an attempt at moving into a high pay bracket.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agree and based on the general lack of political awareness of most candidates to date, they’re probably bringing in experts to write speeches so spending time rehearsing and getting those acting tips. Sad days.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Considering how much people complain about ‘never-ending’ campaigns and ‘silly season’, maybe its a good thing that the politicians are off to a slow start.

    Especially since, as other posters have hinted at, often the choice is ‘easy’ once they have all declared. So no need to spend months hemming and hawing, all we need is enough time to (1) cross off the ones we already don’t like, (2) check the agendas/manifestos of the ones we don’t know then (3) compare them to the ones we already like (if any) and then choose.

    Unless you’re a party voter (don’t want the ‘uncertainty’ of a coalition government) in which case its the same steps but between parties because the candidate is relatively irrelevant.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Hello Wendy, there is so much you could write on in the main time. How about Understanding OMOV( many voters still confused), or usurious fees for media advertising after nomination day, or The “independent” candidate and how will he/she align themselves to achieve anything for their Constituents, or here’s a good one “what qualifications do you think your political candidate should have?

    On the qualifications question you could do a CNS Poll, which could include criteria such as professional qualifications, work experience, understanding key legislation such as constitution, FOI ..etc., understanding financial statement, budgets, Caring about people and improving their lives through previous community service, etc etc etc.

    Stop complaining and do your job as a journalist! SMT!

    CNS (Nicky): Dear idiot, read the viewpoint again, this time with more care, and try to understand what Wendy is actually saying because you have totally missed the point. She is not complaining that she has nothing to write about. (As an aside, she always has more to write than she has hours in the day to finish – and she writes faster than anyone I’ve ever come across.)

    Hopefully, you are not thinking of actually being a candidate in the election as you don’t seem to have even basic comprehension skills, and the main requirement for the job is to be able to read and understand and vote on bills in the Legislative Assembly.

  14. Anonymous says:

    If what is going on in the LA over the Law bill is any indication, I think I would rather they stayed silent permanently and some younger bright blood stood up for election…

  15. Anonymous says:

    Points well taken, Wendy, but really, many of these candidates will, as in the past, have nothing to say other than put Caymanians first, make Cayman great again, God is great and is on our side because we are such a Christian country, we must fiercely resist all these threats from outside to Cayman such as human rights (especially for LGBTs), environmental protection, our culture and heritage and (of course) Dart etc etc. Nothing new, no real carefully thought out policies on establishing an economically sustainable Cayman for the future, so there’s no need to set out their stalls well in advance as everyone knows what stale produce they are selling.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes 10.36, the anti foreigner stuff is already kicking off with people only wishing to hear that Cayman lawyers are being discriminated against, which could not be further from the truth. Facts are, there are not enough Caymanian lawyers to fill the top jobs…some yes, but by no means all. Its a function of a small population and nothing else- yet this is “Caymanians being discriminated against”. So many people have opinions on things they don’t understand and the idiot politicians push that agenda. Do Caymanians honestly wonder why expats might occasionally get pissed off with the stupidity of it all? They just don’t get how the current “welfare state” is paid for. I believe Cayman is changing and the younger voters may start to throw out the old and bring in the new. We need world experienced youngsters who get it, who can sort out education (that is Cayman’s future) and the other old and backward beliefs. And stop the expat bullshit, it really discredits the “Cayman kind” and “God Fearing” rubbish spouted so much on here.

  16. 4B says:

    Well said Wendy….exactly what I’ve been thinking, who can I vote for? Only 1 independent candidate in GTE has stepped up so far. The clock is ticking…

  17. Anonymous says:

    Be careful what you wish for. Anybody surprised by what is happening did not do the most basic research of the consequences of OMOV. It has positives and negatives as most choices in life, but expect a different behavior or outcome is insanity as defined by Einstein “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”
    If you like what has been going on over the last 8 years then you have two choices, otherwise find your independent candidate, unless you are insane of course…

  18. Anonymous says:

    Like you say, some view it as a strategy to wait to see who is running in a particular district. Then, then they will consider the probability of winning a seat in that district.

    This is interesting.

    I suspect that some people really want to help their country. I imagine that residents and citizens would love an opportunity to speak with the candidates. The purpose of such a conversation is to understand the policies proposed by the candidate and to get a feeling whether the voter would be happy with the relevant vote (although there is never a guarantee as to what a person will actually be able to do once elected).

    If a the full slate of an entire “team” or “party” does not get elected, then people will have to be willing to work together (i.e. sections of the allegiance, some independents and some party members) for resolutions in the best interests of the country. But it is important that such a conversation takes place (at least in principle) prior to the date of election. Otherwise, everyone will be fighting for the position of Premier and may not be willing to fill any other post.

    I do hope that people wish to be elected because they want a better country and they have policies which, if implemented, might just achieve that. Those seeking election ONLY for government benefits or a salary may do more harm than good to the country and, perhaps, a disservice to the people. It is tough to imagine this- being allowed to sit there for four years unaccountable and then show up at someone’s home with bread or cookies, a dusted off speech (same one from four years ago) and you’re expected to vote for them. People need more time with candidates. Candidates need to take more time to consider whether they really have the country at heart.

  19. Anonymous says:

    1 candidate to choose from in GT South. Looks like I won’t be voting at all this year.

    • anon says:

      There’s more than that. Paul Hurlston running too lol

      • Anonymous says:

        But I won’t vote for him either. So someone else and many other someone else’s need to run.

      • Anonymous says:

        Of course he would run since he lost his massively paying job at the Port and is pissed at that plus he can get the huge MLA salary plus double dip with his pension.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for this, Wendy.

    It’s a pity that the political hopefuls would much rather be elusive (so as to avoid journalistic scrutiny) than be forthcoming about their platform, policies and project ideas that would benefit their constituents.

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe it is all down to economics. Most of the candidates are independents who do not have the huge party bank roll and also a lot of the candidates have their own Facebook page and other media access. That worked well enough in the us and Brexit so no doubt it will work here also.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, it will be interesting to see if any ‘stealth’ campaigns manage to have an effect. Whether that’s social media or just going in person to the 300 front doors that you need to win.