By Christopher Tobutt
Heather Bodden, OCI, Cert. Hon., JP who is running for election in Savannah alongside “Community Builds Country,” candidates Osbourne Bodden for Bodden Town East, and Wayne Panton for Newlands, held an election campaign meeting outside her home in Savannah on Saturday March 20. Ms Bodden is former elected MLA for Bodden Town District from 1995 – 2000, a Justice of the Peace for 13 years, and chairperson of the Cayman Islands Beautification Committee for 20 years.
There were many endorsements, first from Stephanie Bodden who spoke of Heather as an exemplar of women’s empowerment. Maxine Bodden was next: “You call her, and she is there. How many other representatives have you tried to reach who will not return your call, who will not engage with you, but they have all the answers. They don’t want to hear your troubles. But you know what? Heather does and she is already helping you with them,” she said.
Wayne Panton told the audience all about how Heather Bodden never seems to tire of helping people in her community: “People don’t talk about how incredible Heather is. They talk about how big her heart is. They talk about how committed to her community she is. They talk about how she cares about every single person. I can tell you she inspires me. I go into that office sometimes, and she comes in 20 minutes later. I say, “where you been? She says, “Oh someone wanted me to get some medication. Then I carried this for this man, and then I got some cards for these people and then I got a birthday cake for Mr. so and so and he enjoyed it…oh I’ve had a wonderful day already.”
At the podium, Heather Bodden addressed many issues in Savannah and Newlands too, but also issues of national concern: “The high rate of unemployment and underemployment is one of the most crucial issues facing Cayman today. We all know what happens when there is low or no employment: People go hungry. People go without health coverage and eventually somewhere to live. This sparks all forms of crime.
“The cost of living is an issue that we need to get on top of for the whole country but for our seniors too who have limited income and their buying power is declining. We need to work together to find solutions there.
“We need a better more reliable public transport system which will allow us to restrict new cars coming onto the roads from work permit holders etcetera. We can’t continue with things as they are because it will only get worse and have a greater impact on our quality of life,” she said.
Tonight I appeal to each of you to elect the candidates that will do the right thing for you.
I have poured my heart and soul into this community for the past 30 years, working to make what you now call home a safe and desirable place to raise your family. I have made community service a priority but I need your vote to be able to do more not only community-wise, but on a national level. In a time such as the one we have faced in the past year, people are hurting, people need representatives who care, people need a voice and they need representatives who will listen,” she said.
“We must look after our own. We must fill the job positions with our own, our public schools need to be addressed to have better student performance. We need to address areas of weakness in our schools Joanna Clarke Primary School will get a lot of attention and help from Wayne and myself. We will support that school to address identified weaknesses and improve its performance. No child should go hungry and no teacher should be without the supplies they need to teach our children,” she said.
I know this is where I belong – working for my people and believe me when I say it is not a Monday-to Friday job. It is a 24/7 every day of the week job. I put my everything into whatever I do, often at the expense of any kind of personal or social life. But that’s because this is my life.”