When West Bay North contenders, incumbent Bernie Bush and challenger Rolston Anglin met in the Chamber of Commerce’s Candidates forum it was not as combative as the previous clash between the candidates for West Bay Central but it was equally compelling viewing and listening.
Both with considerable parliamentary experience - Mr Anglin a former minister - argued persuasively for the constituency and national issues they would champion.
Specific to West Bay North, incumbent MP Bernie Bush listed poverty, property ownership and the future of the Barkers Nature Park as the main challenges facing the district.
Mr Anglin cited employment, care for senior citizens, improving the public infrastructure and the environment as in need of attention.
Nationally, Mr Bush listed the cost of living, healthcare and the pension system as his three top priorities.
Mr Anglin spoke of affordable housing, adequate household earnings, and insurance especially health insurance as warranting urgent attention nationally.
Discussing the cost of living Mr Bush proposed reducing import duties on essential items, a strategy not supported by his challenger.
“We have to look on the essentials and wave duties,” he maintained.
Mr Anglin who lists affordable housing as one of his national priorities expanded on that as a means of reducing the overall cost of living with an equity credit scheme.
“This would instantly lower the monthly payments for every single Caymanian,” he said, adding that government should support green initiatives for housing such as solar panels with zero import duties.
Both MP Bernie Bush and his challenger Rolston Anglin say any decision to reopen the borders should be based on the advice of the health professionals, and linked to the vaccination programme both in Cayman and the internationals from which Cayman sources its trade and tourism.
In the interim Mr Anglin said the tourism stipend should be further increased to $2000.
The viability of the Turtle Centre came up during this session looking at the economic impact on the attraction from the pandemic.
MP Bush said it should not be closed as it’s an asset to Cayman for both scientific value and leisure activities.
Challenger Anglin said management issues at the centre which have been brought to his attention need to be resolved first.
“Once we understand what's happening, we need to ensure that we put the necessary leadership and talent in place to maximize the potential of the turtle centre.”
That was just one of the issues pertaining to sustainable development which spread across the discussion.
Another was preserving the Barkers Nature Park with both candidates lamented the scale on ongoing development in Cayman and questioning the immediate and long term impact.
Bernie Bush: “They’ve gone overboard. We have to protect what’s left for my grandchildren, your grandchildren, your great-grandchildren.”
“It's time for us to grab the bull by the horns and say enough is enough.”
Mr Bush also suggested revisiting the previous National Development Vision 2000.
The importance of the National Development Plan was also highlighted by Mr Anglin who also pointed to what he sees as an urgent problem for Cayman; sewage management.
In discussing reserving certain jobs exclusively for Caymanians, Mr Anglin, a former minister of Labour, proposed a quota system based on a policy he had introduced while in office.
“If you allocate a job and say that it’s only for Caymanians, what happens when you don’t have Caymanains who want or enter that job category?” he asked.
“When you have a quota system what you can do is that you can ensure that certain jobs are designated for Caymanians by having a quota of zero.”
From Mr Bush’s point of view, “We have to sit down with the Chamber of Commerce with the Labour Office and say which sector are we going to look at. We just can’t just pick them out of the air…I have no problems saying, ‘Yes, this particular job is for Caymanians only’.”
This was also reflected in opportunities for young Caymanians aggravated by the current economic climate where lack of opportunities was associated with a high incidence of stress.
The two candidates felt that the law for the district councils needs to be amended to enable them to be more effective and called for more community policing in West Bay North.
They also share concerns about traffic density with a public transportation system seen as a solution.
The Government has sought feedback on the Digital Identity bill which is to be debated in parliament. Do you support the introduction of this Bill?