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Self-funded candidates talk pros and cons of eschewing big money donors

We hear the rhetoric all the time: let’s keep big money out of politics. As good as that may sound on the campaign trail, the fact is, running for office costs money. But not all candidates are cozying up to big money donors.

From road signs to air time, to the finger foods used to coax the voting public to rallies and meetings, being a candidate is far from cheap.

“The public really wants the big show, they want you in their living rooms, they want the signs,” said candidate for Savannah Kent McTaggart.

He told Cayman 27 he has eschewed big money to go it alone, save for some small dollar donations from individuals.

“On the radio it’s interesting,” he said. “Before the election time they were calling me to come in to fill space, as soon as I announced, it went to $500 an hour.”

“I think the average cost range for one hour interview is between one to two thousand dollars,” said West Bay Central candidate Katherine Ebanks-Wilks.

She told Cayman 27 prices like that have forced her to be creative to get her message to the voters. Otherwise, she sees being self-financed as an advantage.

“When you obtain any kind of funding of the sort, I mean, an individual could come back to you and remind you, you know, I helped you, now what are you going to do for me,” she explained.

West Bay North candidate Mervin Smith told Cayman 27 the parties and teams all came knocking for 2017, but decided to stay true to his message.

“You’re expressing yourself, your views, and that’s really all that is required,” said Mr. Smith. “Whereas of course if you get big financial backers there’s all the certain things that they suggest, that they require.”

Chris Saunders of Bodden Town West said he has spent a shockingly small amount of money in the campaign.
“One of the things for me that I think needs to be done is to take the big money out of politics,” said Mr. Saunders.

And West Bay West candidate Paul Rivers said he is making up for a lack of big money in other ways.

“There’s no big money behind me, there’s a big agenda behind me, and that is upward mobility and upskilling, and advancing our people,” said Mr. Rivers.

The general public will find out exactly how much money all 61 of this year’s candidates have spent 28 days after the election.

About the author

Joe Avary

Joe Avary

Joe Avary has been with Cayman 27 since 2014. He brings 20 years in television experience to the job, working hard every day to bring the people of Cayman stories that inform the public and make a difference in the community. Joe hopes his love for the Cayman Islands shines through in his informative and entertaining weather reports. If you have a story idea for Joe or just want to say hello, call him at 324-2141 or send an email to

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