George Town South’s Member of Parliament, Barbara Conolly, has declared she will be seeking re-election at the 14th April General Election. Ms Conolly is currently a Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Youth and also PS for Finance and Economic Development and was the Deputy Speaker of the House.
Having spent the last four years working at a grass roots level for her constituency, Ms Conolly says she wants to continue her work “on the ground”, making improvements to the lives of those around her.
“I’m not the sort of person to come up with ideas and then delegate them to others to carry out,” she confirmed. “I am much more interested in showing by example.”
As a result, Ms Connolly has not been afraid to roll up her sleeves and take full part in whatever project she is currently involved, such as working with the NRA to resurface Oak Mill Street, participating in Earth Day Clean-ups or cleaning and revitalising the Pond in Windsor Park.
Ms Connolly, who was born in George Town, became a member of The Progressives in 2002. Her background in the financial services sector, prior to her move to politics, gave her a thorough insight into that industry, while her work with former Leader of Government Business, Hon. Kurt Tibbetts, as his political analyst, helped her gain an understanding of constituents’ needs when it came to issues such as employment and healthcare.
Getting youth involved
The most vulnerable people in the Cayman community is where Ms Conolly’s focus will continue to be, should she be re-elected.
“I want to work much more with young people,” she stated. “Young people, particularly teenagers, need a voice in Government and I want to expand my advocacy on their behalf.”
Having worked as the Chairperson of the Youth Parliament for the past four years, Ms Connolly said this had been an area of her work that she has found particularly rewarding.
“I have really enjoyed working with the young people, who come from both the public and private schools. It’s been a highlight of my first term in office,” she advised.
She would like to see a many more teenagers becoming more involved in politics.
“I would have loved more young people to sign up to the Electoral Register in order to vote in the upcoming election,” she said. “They should not feel worried about the possibility of having to undertake jury duty. Although that is a huge responsibility, it’s also a great role for young people and gives them excellent experience while doing their civic duty.”
Having partially sponsored an after-school programme in Windsor Park, Ms Conolly would like to see more after-school programmes established in order to better promote youth advocacy, helping teens in particular transition from school into the working environment.
Sitting on the Education Council, Ms Conolly is acutely aware of the scholarships available to young Caymanians, but they have to achieve the grades required to obtain scholarships, so schools must work to ensure that young people get the best education possible, she said. The school structure as a whole needed to change to ensure young people are able to embrace diverse career choices available to them, not just careers in financial services. At the same time, teachers needed to be more accountable and provide young people with the education they deserve, she said.
“Schools must be all-inclusive,” she confirmed. “No students can be left behind, no matter what their ability or interests. If children have special needs, we must ensure we employ additional teachers with the right skills to assist these children.”
Elderly need help
Family and community are Ms Conolly’s particular passions and so as well as focusing on young people, she intends to also promote more facilities for the elderly.
“I am delighted that the needs of the elderly are being separated out of the Needs Assessment Unit and will be given a department of their own,” she said. “The elderly have quite separate needs from the rest of the community, for example they should not have to wait in line for assistance when they visit the NAU. I am very pleased that this is now changing.”
A pilot project that will see an entire building dedicated to the needs of the elderly, including a comfortable space for them to spend time, meeting with friends and even undertaking new skills, such as computer and social media literacy, is on the cards and Ms Conolly hopes this will be a great success which will then be rolled out district-wide.
“The elderly need our attention,” she said. “In this respect, I will continue to advocate for affordable healthcare for the over-65s. It is imperative that they be able to afford health insurance, which is currently pushing up the cost of living for our elderly. Renewing my focus on the needs of the elderly will be a priority for me once I am re-elected.”
Barbara Conolly – George Town South – Achievements – Term 2017 – 2021
• Participated in Neighbourhood Clean up projects
• Renaming of Humber Avenue to Claude Hill Drive
• Partially sponsored After School Programme in Windsor Park
• Launched Neighbour Watch Programmes in 9 areas of GTS
• Removal of derelict vehicles
• Arrange the installation of speed bumps
• Arrange the installation of street lights in dark areas
• Instrumental in working with NRA to install a major drainage system throughout Windsor Park
• Worked with NRA to resurface Oak Mill Street
• Participated in Earth Day Clean-ups for 4 years
• Cleaning and revitalizing the Pond in Windsor Park
• Participated in Celebrate Cayman – Sixty Acts of Kindness and sponsored the landscaping of the Pond in Windsor Park.
• Sponsor monthly maintenance of the Pond in Windsor Park
• Instrumental in the renaming of the South Sound Beach to Consuelo Beach in South Sound
• Underbrushing of parcel of land adjacent to Smith Barcadere
• Instrumental in the installation of the Pedestrian crossing at Smith Barcadere
• Power washed and painted constituent home
• Adopted Red Bay Primary School as my school during the second year of my term and took on the role of the “go to MLA” to assist in various projects and sponsored the school’s birthday club.
• Sponsored a Cayman history book for each student of the Graduation Class of 2019 of Red Bay Primary
• Sponsored computers for the Top Boy and Girl of Red Bay Primary for their Graduation Class of 2020
• Co-sponsored the Christmas Tree lighting and other lights for the Park in Windsor Park for 2 years
• Co-sponsored Children’s Christmas parties
• Co-sponsored school supplies for “Back to School” Drives
• Sponsored the installation of Wifi at Smith Barcadere and South Sound Community Centre
• Delivered masks to constituents during Covid-19
• Delivered food to the most vulnerable during Covid-19
• Checked on constituents during Covid-19 via phone calls and visits – remotely
• Arranged sponsorship of the repairs of a constituent home (Off Walkers Road)
• In lieu of a Christmas Party (Christmas 2020) as a result of crowd restrictions, – delivered hot meals to seniors.
• Assisted young people in my constituency with job placements
• Day to Day meetings with constituents addressing issues such as Immigration, Planning, job placements, housing to name a few…
• Co-hosted community yard sale with all proceeds to Feed our Future