(CMR) Osbourne “Ossie” Bodden has declared his candidacy for the upcoming 2021 Cayman Islands General Election for the Bodden Town East Electoral District. This would put Bodden in direct competition with incumbent Health Minister Dwayne Seymour who took the seat from Bodden in the last election.
Bodden will campaign in affiliation with Wayne Panton, his former political party and Government colleague and Heather Bodden, a former Bodden Town MLA.
Both Panton and Bodden have declared their candidacies for the Newlands and Savannah constituencies respectively under the campaign theme of “Community Creates Country”.
Bodden said that, like his two running mates, he is a strong advocate for improvements in his community and country, and it is this desire for change that has compelled him to seek the Bodden Town East vote in May.
“This past year has been a tough one because of the pandemic, and Cayman is going to experience some more hardship as our borders remain partially closed and rightfully so,” he said. “The country will need leaders who have knowledge, vision and intestinal fortitude to see us through these difficult times and help our people survive economically. I am ready and willing to do just that and for this reason, I am offering my services and experience one more time to the people of Bodden Town and the wider Cayman Islands.”
Bodden served two terms in government under the People’s Progressive Movement (PPM), first as a backbencher (2005-2009) and then in Cabinet as Minister for Health, Community Affairs, Sports, Culture and Youth from 2013 to 2017 where he worked alongside Panton who was then Minister for Financial Services, Commerce and Environment. He has also partnered with both Panton and Ms. Bodden on many community initiatives in the eastern districts.
“All of this experience, along with my many years in the financial industry, places me in a position of being able to look at my community and islands from a unique perspective that will help me address many of the interests of the people who call this country home. Seeing the state of my constituency on a daily basis, and hearing the complaints of many, is really what has driven me back into the political arena.”
One of the issues that concern Bodden on a national level but also affects his constituency and the other two eastern districts is that of infrastructure, specifically traffic management. Traffic congestion in the mornings for five days of the week continues to cause a lot of stress for residents. Bodden said he is committed to working toward and supporting the Government with the multi-pronged approach that will be needed to resolve this problem.
Along those same lines, the decentralization of Government and businesses from George Town is another important initiative that Bodden will support and promote in order to reduce the need for residents to have to travel to the capital for necessary services. He said that the pandemic has shown that a lot of work can be done from home now with the use of technology and this needs to be embraced to help improve the quality of life on this small island. Decentralization will also help ease the traffic going west in the mornings.
If elected, Bodden will also address the future and fortunes of Caymanians in their own country, something he has spoken and written about often over the past 20 years.
“We are a country that is developing but leaving its people behind, and I see it as do-or-die time right now,” said Bodden. “We must find ways to prepare our people for the workforce and encourage them to prove themselves as well when they get the opportunity. We will always need work permits in Cayman, but they cannot be at the expense of our own people. People that come here to work and live must understand the importance and value of the Cayman people and work side by side with them and not against them.”
Moving closer to home, Bodden said he will take up the challenge to build an Emergency Centre in the district of Bodden Town, a project which was introduced some 15 years ago and still has not come to fruition. He said the Centre is important for the safety and wellbeing of residents and, along with the imminent completion of the Church of God Hall, will provide ample hurricane shelter space for residents. All of this and more must be done in an eco-friendly manner, and Bodden pledges to do his best to ensure that man and nature co-exist the best they can while still developing for the people of Cayman and future generations.
Bodden has enlisted the help of Robert Bodden, a candidate from the 2017 General Election and his cousin, who will serve as his campaign Chair and together they hope to win a seat for Bodden in the next administration. Both have a vision for the restoration of the original capital of the Cayman Islands and will work through a District Council to make this dream a reality. Bodden said he recognizes that the betterment of Bodden Town is not a four-year task but requires a long-term plan that can be implemented regardless of who sits in the seat of power. Over the campaign period, he hopes to discuss his thoughts on the matter in-depth with the people being canvassed and develop a comprehensive plan.
A Code of Professional Conduct or Code of Ethics for Members of Parliament is high on Bodden’s agenda and he is looking forward to supporting all movement to implement these policies as a matter of priority if they are still not in place after the elections in May.
“As a Justice of the Peace, I believe in the rule of law and fair and equitable treatment for all. All of us must be held answerable to the laws of the land, whether Members of Parliament, lawyers, doctors, judges or the average man on the street. I intend to represent my constituency and all of its members, not just a few supporters. In addition, I will work hard, both locally and nationally, to make these islands the best they can be,” said Bodden.
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