A new online petition is calling on Premier Alden McLaughlin to reconsider his picks for Councillor positions in the areas of environment and gender affairs. The petition says the assigned lacked the knowledge, qualifications, and track record to represent Cayman’s best interests.
“I think there should be people that are more in tune with what’s going on in the environment nowadays, how the things are right now,” said Don Foster’s operations manager Sergio Coni.
He told Cayman 27 the environmental issues facing Cayman require a forward thinking approach. He said that’s one reason why he is petitioning Mr. McLaughlin to reconsider his pick for Councillor of Environment, Captain Eugene Ebanks.
“Captain Eugene has all my respect in terms of what he knows about these waters, but we cannot tackle the environmental issues with the view of the past. The past was different, if anything we’ve got to learn the lesson from the past,” said Mr. Coni.
He told Cayman 27 the hard steps taken previously in the name of conservation have paid off.
“If it was not because of the DOE in the past, putting restrictions with the conch taking, the lobster taking, and the grouper fishing and so on, I know today we wouldn’t have any of that available,” said Mr. Coni.
Mr. Coni is also critical of Mr. McLaughlin’s pick for Councillor in the ministry of HR, Immigration, and Community Affairs, Austin Harris. In 2015, Mr. Harris was not convicted in a widely publized assault trial in which he admitted to assaulting a woman.
“It makes me feel a little bit uneasy that a person that had these particular issues is now in charge or assisting under gender affairs,” said Mr. Coni.
He told Cayman 27 the Premier’s picks in these two particular arenas shows a certain ‘tone deafness’ to the issues.
“There could be other people out there that can help out with that, and that might be better suited, that’s my take,” said Mr. Coni.
Cayman 27 reached out to both Councillors named in the petition. Captain Ebanks promised to get back to us later with his thoughts.
“I pledged during the campaign to advance both the protection of women and children in the Cayman Islands, and I stand by that commitment as Councillor,” said Austin Harris via text message.
“Must be a really slow news day,” quipped Mr. McLaughlin when reached for his comments on the petition.
As of air time, the petition has 18 signatures.