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Saunders Drops Party Allegiance To Contest BTW

Saunders Drops Party Allegiance To Contest BTW
Chris Saunders.

GEORGE TOWN, Grand Cayman (CNS) -- Chris Saunders, who failed to win a seat when he ran on the UDP ticket in 2013, is planning to launch his bid for Bodden Town West by sending a letter to every one of the 1,453 voters in the constituency, offering himself as an independent.

With Saunders running in a loose alliance with Mario Rankin, who is contesting the Newlands seat in the adjacent district, the Bodden Town races are beginning to heat up even before the candidates from the ruling PPM have been revealed in an area that tended to favour them in the past.

Saunders is the third candidate to opt for BTW and the second independent on the ticket so far, but he may not be the last.

Stafford Berry has declared his intentions to run with Saunders’ former party leader, McKeeva Bush, who now heads the Cayman Democratic Party, the new name for the UDP. He will also be up against former UDP MLA and health minister Gilbert McLean, who lost his seat in 2009 after contesting that election as an independent. Gilbert is also running in an alliance with Alva Suckoo, who is contesting the neighbouring Newlands constituency.

Suckoo and McLean may be joining forces with other independents, including the incumbents Arden McLean (East End) and Ezzard Miller (North Side). Winston Connolly could be in that group as well, though he has still not declared where, or even if, he will run to keep his seat in the LA.

Saunders is likely to have a tough fight on his hands once the full line-up is revealed for what will be a competitive race. Collecting 289 votes in the old Bodden Town West polling station area in 2013 when he was running on the UDP platform, Saunders took more than 30% of the vote in the constituency overall ,coming in seventh from a field of 13 candidates.

The western area of Bodden Town was dominated in 2013 by veteran MLA Anthony Eden, who has not yet said if he will be running in the 2017 General Election. Community Affairs Minister Osbourne Bodden could be the PPM’s candidate for that seat as he also did well, collecting 466 votes from stations in that area.