George Town Central independent MP Kenneth Bryan wasted no time chastising his opponent's absence from the Chamber of Commerce Candidates Forum on Monday evening. Frank Cornwall, the Progressives pick for the constituency had declined the invitation.
“Unfortunately, my opponent has taken away that opportunity from you, by not showing up here tonight and to previous debates. I believe for that reason alone, it shows that he does not deserve your vote,” Mr Bryan declared.
He said a code of conduct for MPs, district councils and the National Assistance Unit will form the basis for his short-term priorities, with "traffic, cost of living, healthcare cost-reduction, (and) a centre for the elderly” part of his wider national agenda.
Specific to his George Town Central constituency, Mr Bryan was more philosophical: “Most people that I speak to feel that they're being taken advantage of in their own country... People don't feel that they can be a part of the Caymanian dream” he said, including the George Town Revitalisation Plan now being rolled out.
“I think we have to make an assessment of exactly where we want to go with our capital, and then have that frank conversation with the residents and families within the area,.”
He factors in affordable housing as a key element suggesting a zoning-plan with land set aside for housing for Caymanians.
Beach access was one of the related issues which arose which also holds implications for the capital with Mr Bryan calling for relevant legislation previously tabled but withdrawn, to be brought back to the parliament
“We understand the development of our Caribbean island and the most attractive thing is the beach. But how do we merge the two worlds? I think that the Dart Group did a very good job where they did setbacks, not too close to the beach, where there’s still accessible points."
Speaking on education his view is that the challenge has less to do with the curriculum and more to do with support for parents, especially those on low wages.
“We know how difficult that can be with potentially being a single parent, only making $6 an hour,” he said calling for more support for parents.
“The stresses at home I think are coming into our school system. So I think is the best way to solve this problem is to help families be better at parenting."
The George Town Central MP said this fed into a wider challenge facing young people whom he divided into two groups; those entering the job market and those still in school.
Mr Bryan felt more job and career opportunities should be afforded to school leavers but at the same time pointed to the challenges and distractions affecting young people within the school system.
He also proposed a comprehensive reform of the health insurance system to make it more affordable, and suggested a similar approach to tacking the pensions system, especially on the need to replenish pension funds following last year’s early withdrawal scheme which he supported.
“I think the government should start setting aside a fund that you put money into specifically even call it the COVID-19 fund."
But he reasoned: “Even if we were to say magically put all that money back within that five to 10 year 20 year period, the amount of contributions that we're putting into pensions now at the rate of the cost of living is still not sufficient. So, we have to do one of two things; either get Caymanians to make more money and put more savings away, or reduce the cost of living for when they retire.”
Specific to the rising cost of living, Mr Bryan said a large part of the answer lies in the import duties system, but cautioned: "We got to be really careful with that because you don't want to disrupt the balance of our economy.”
On a question of decriminalising cannabis, the George Town Central representative insists that the community should be consulted saying: "It's about how we market and message the benefits of it, and how we mitigate the potential negatives that may come from it.”
He took a similar stance on population and development on the basis that the public should see themselves as stakeholders not bystanders in the process.
“I know that growth is good, but how fast you grow, should be determined on how much benefit Caymanians as a whole are benefiting from this growth.”
The George Town Central MP said if in government his portfolio preferences would be tourism, culture sports and housing and that he would be open to a coalition with like-minded MPs.