Rivers to fight for seat

| 17/07/2013

(CNS): The education minister in the new administration will begin her courtroom battle Wednesday to retain her seat in West Bay following an election petition filed by the husband of a UDP candidate who was pushed into fifth place. Tara Rivers, who ran on the Coalition for Cayman’s ticket but who then joined the PPM’s Cabinet, is facing a challenge to her qualification for election on the grounds that she was not resident in the Cayman Islands for seven years before Nomination Day and that she holds a US passport. The case will begin in Court 2 at 9:30am before Chief Justice Anthony Smellie.

Rivers is represented by the local firm Hampson and Co with Jeffrey Jowel, QC, the UK constitutional legal expert who help draft Cayman’s 2009 constitution and bill of rights, leading the team. She will be defending her seat against the challenge from John Gordon Hewitt, who is represented by local attorney Steve McField.

The challenger, who is the spouse of Velma Powery-Hewitt, who ran on the UDP ticket in the district of West Bay but came in fifth place after the vote outside of the four seats, is asking for Rivers to be disqualified by the court and his wife returned as the forth elected member for West Bay with her three UDP colleagues, McKeeva Bush (who was first in the poll in the district), Captain Eugene Ebanks and Bernie Bush.

The petition alleges that because Rivers was working in London for several years during the seven year period prior to the election she was not entitled to run, and the fact that she has an American passport also disqualifies her as it suggests allegiance to another country.

Although it is common knowledge that Rivers was employed by a London-based law firm during the seven year period before Nomination Day in March ahead of the 22 May general election, she was also a student, one of the exemptions provided for in the law. In addition, although Rivers is understood to have had an American passport, having been born in the US, it is not clear if she has continued to renew the travel document after reaching adulthood.

The hearing is expected to last two days. Should the chief justice find against Rivers, it is extremely unlikely that the country’s top judge would instate Hewitt as an MLA. A more likely outcome would be a by-election in the district for the seat.

Check back for CNS on details of the legal proceedings throughout the day.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Well all I can say is no one that does not read documents, and conveniently acts smart or dumb when it suits them will never get my vote.

  2. Anonymous says:

    With all due respect, first of all having a law degree, being a relatively inexperienced attorney doesn't mean she's more of a woman than Ms Hewitt.


    Ms Hewitt has proven over the years the kind of woman she is and quite frankly I believe to undermine her contributions as a immigration and a police officer, mother of grown women, including the deceased Melanie McLaughlin who in my humble opinion was arguably more than Ms Rivers in most aspects. We still don't know as parents where our children will be in the future and Ms Rivers has just started that too.

    Ms Rivers is not registered asa WB voter, lives in George Town and yes, gained her experience overseas for several years, whereas Ms Hewitt has spend her many years contributing to this country, raising children and grandchildren, her handicap, special needs relatives, being involved in the service clubs.

    It is now time for the public to realise we have a situation of what is suggested by psyhcology (ask Ms Rivers, her first degree is in this area) as COGNITIVE DISSONANCE! 

    I too was a supporter of Ms Rivers as a candidate in 2000 and 2013, BUT unlike most of you I have accepted she did not meet the criteria and prefer to hold up the Constitution.

    I also refuse to tear down a Caymanian, WB woman, Ms Powery-Hewitt who like so many may have joined a political party yes, because it wouldbe easier to get elected. Look around and ask!

    Didn't Ms Rivers have the full support of the political action committee C4C to get her elected?

    Again, ask yourselves, if the UDP/Mr Bush had someone on his ticket with same qualifications and background as Ms Rivers, yet did not meet the criteria for eligibility, accortding to the Constitution, would you accept that person or would you be accusing him of feeling he was above the law?? There were several educated, qualified people living overseas who would have but could not run in the election and even in the past election some people did the right thing and stepped aside due to the criteria. Will this be changed? Maybe we'll really open the door to 'competition' in 2017.

    Please, check yourselves hinestly, TRY to be objective and look at the facts that could be applied at the day of nominiation then see if she was honest and elighible.

    Are we saying that candidates should now have a formal education? Better put it in the Constitution.

    Welcome to politics and lfe Ms Rivers, still many years to go and you can try again in 4 years.



    • Anonymous says:

      "BUT unlike most of you I have accepted she did not meet the criteria". Well my sincerest congratulations to you. You appear to know significantly more than the judge who is still trying to figure out whether "she did not meet the criteria".

  3. Anonymous says:

    Why would a candidate refuse to sign the Voluntary Declaration?

  4. Anonymous says:

    God bless you Tara. The light SHALL prevail.