The Chamber of Commerce kicked off its Election 2021 Candidates Forum with an in-studio live-streamed panel discussion with the three hopefuls vying for the East End seat.
In a first, Caymanian Times will provide is regular snapshots of the sessions in addition to live-streaming the events.
For the first encounter, incumbent East End MP Arden McLean and challengers Isaac Rankine and McCleary Frederick exchanged views on their priority issues for the district as well as the wider national agenda.
Mr McLean noted that “the people of East End said that they did not want it to look like Seven Mile Beach.”
McCleary Frederick proposed a 10-year development plan and a District Council made up of constituents.
Traffic woes was a recurring theme among the three along with access to services, job opportunities and social issues among the top concerns.
Challenger Isaac Rankine said, “We have a major traffic problem in this country, and it affects East End more than affects almost any other district.”
For him, the remote working triggered by the pandemic offered a solution alongside a reliable public transportation system with dedicated bus lanes.
But Mr McLean felt that some people “should not be allowed to drive their own private vehicles” and use pubic transport instead.
He also suggested a park-and-ride system in George Town to compensate for the lack of parking spaces.
Mr Frederick proposed a transportation master plan as a way forward.
The competing candidates were broadly in agreement on the cost of living and decentralising some government and business operations from the capital to East End and other eastern districts.
Regarding education, especially comparing the achievements of public and private school students, Mr Frederick lamented that “we keep changing the goalposts.”
Mr McLean called for a balance between schools’ responsibility and parental involvement” and he was concerned that technocrats were encroaching into the role of teachers.
Mr Rankine said the education budget is adequate and suggested that “what we need to do is use those resources properly.”
Strong views were expressed on a question about large undeveloped tracts of land in East End.
Mr McLean rejected that pointing out that “60 to 80 per cent of the agricultural products that we sell in Georgetown comes from East End and North Side.” And he felt any development in the area should be sustainable.
Mr Rankine was adamant that the people of the district should be involved in any development planning.
The three candidates criticised insurance companies for “cherry-picking clients” especially for health coverage with McLean and Rankine opting for universal or national health insurance scheme respectively.
There was also agreement on the need for affordable housing especially for young Caymanians, while suggestions of population growth to 100,000 were dismissed as impractical and risked marginalising Caymanians.
The three East End candidates felt that opening the economy should be done cautiously, with land-based tourism prioritised over cruises, and all strongly defended the financial services sector.
And on the divisive issue of the Civil Partnership law, the three candidates said they respected other people’s sexuality. Mr Mclean who had voted against the original bill said his opposition to it “was on the method in which it was done.”
The forums continue with the candidates for North Side next.