Plan will merge 3 districts
(CNS): In order to have even numbers in the new nine district proposal put forward by the premier the districts of East End, North Side and most of the eastern part of Bodden Town will need to be combined into one district. Following last week’s referendum result the premier announced his intention to set up a bi-partisan committee to examine the possibility of double member constituencies of around 1900 voters, where each voter gets two votes. However, the current member for North Side has pointed out that in order to do that his district would be submerged in a greater geographical district covering well over half of Grand Cayman.
Ezzard Miller said that he and Arden McLean, the member for East End, would now begin campaigning to have their districts constitutionally protected as single member constituencies in an effort to preserve them and the distinctive district representation.
If North Side and East End are combined with the greater part of Bodden Town, using the electoral boundary commission’s recommendations for the boundaries of single member constituencies, they will become part of a mammoth eastern district. Based on the goal suggested by the premier of around 1900 voters for each district, this new constituency would stretch from the junction of Shamrock Road and Carlton Road all the way to East End and North Side.
Miller said that he could not support the latest idea by the premier and pointed out that McKeeva Bush and the UDP government had spent $100,000 of the people’s money campaigning to keep the system that Bush had said was not broken.
“He said it wasn’t broken, that it worked well,” Miller said. The independent member and leading advocate for one man, one vote in SMCs said that even after the premier had fixed the ballot result to say the ‘no’ vote had won and the people didn’t want change, he now says he will make a change that can’t work.
“He cannot insult the people of the country in this way,” Miller stated. “We will be agitating to protect our district representation,” he added referring to his parliamentary colleague Arden McLean, who is the opposition member for East End.
Despite aiming for equal size constituencies when it comes to voters, the premier’s latest suggestion would still see some imbalance as Cayman Brac and Little Cayman would remain one constituency returning two members while having less than a thousand registered voters. The Sister Islands have been given special protection under the 2009 Constitution that ensure the constituency will always return two members, despite its small population. In contract to the 980 or so voters currently registered on the Brac, the new district of Bodden Town, East End & North Side would have over two thousand voters.
Based on the existing boundaries drawn up by the commission in 2010, the new proposal by the premier would see what would have been the single member districts doubled up, starting in West Bay and moving out to the eastern districts, where the merge of the three districts into one constituency would occur in order to accommodate the other seven districts, in particular in the growing areas east of George Town, such as Savannah and Newlands.
The proposal would see West Bay divided into two double-member constituencies, George Town into three, a new district in Red Bay & Prospect and another new district covering the areas of Savannah and Pedro.
Speaking to Cayman 27 on Friday evening following his announcement on Radio Cayman on Thursday evening, the premier acknowledged that it may be problematic merging the existing single member constituencies of East End and North Side.
"We have to figure out what to do with East End and North Side, who have single members, and we have to work with them so they are not disadvantaged in any way,” Bush told the TV news channel.
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