WB election decision Friday

| 05/08/2013

(CNS): The Cayman Islands chief justice will deliver his decision on the election petition regarding a challenge to the West Bay result on Friday afternoon. Three weeks after the three day courtroom argument, when Tara Rivers, the Coalition for Cayman candidate, fought to keep her seat as the second elected member for West Bay and, by extension, her new Cabinet job as education minister, Anthony Smellie will be revealing his findings on her qualification. The election petition was filed by John Hewitt, the husband of Velma Hewitt, who was beaten into fourth place in the district and the only UDP candidate not to get a seat in McKeeva Bush’s West Bay stronghold.

The ruling will be delivered by the country’s top judge at 2:30pm on 9 August in Courtroom 5 in Kirk House, according to the amended Grand Court list posted on the judicial website on Monday afternoon.

The petition challenging Rivers' qualification to run for office was filed on two grounds: one relating to the renewal and use of her American passport as an adult, and the other based on her residency outside of the Cayman islands for a significant part of the seven years prior to Nomination Day. If the chief justice finds that she was not qualified to run on either or both of the two grounds, a further hearing will need to be scheduled to hear more arguments regarding the issue of a bye-election.

The challenged claimed that Hewitt should be automatically returned if Rivers was found to be unqualified. However, the parties involved did not argue that issue as the CJ required that the attorneys representing both Hewitt and Rivers argue the main points of qualification first before he turned his decision to the remedy.

However, if Rivers is found not to be qualified, it is not clear who will take up the argument for a bye-election, as the issue will become immaterial to her as she will be prevented from running in the election in any event. Section 62 (1) (h) of the constitution states: "No person shall be qualified to be elected as a member of the Legislative Assembly who is disqualified for membership of the Assembly by any law in force in the Cayman Islands relating to offences connected with elections." 

Although Attorney General Sam Bulgin is also a defendant in the petition, acting on behalf of the district’s returning officer who the petitioner accused of wrongfully accepting Rivers' nomination, it is not clear how far the AG would be prepared to go to fight for a bye-election, given the political element, or whether a separate action will need to come directly from the elected government to fight for another ballot on behalf of the 1,400 or so people who had voted for Rivers.

Although Rivers is not a member of the PPM, she joined the Progressive’s Cabinet after a week or so of negotiations when it became clear that the C4C candidates and other independents were not it a position to form a government or prevent the PPM from doing so.

Rivers was offered the post of education and employment minister, and the new premier also agreed to have Winston Connolly, who was elected to George Town on the C4C ticket, join government as a backbench counsellor in Rivers’ ministry. Following that move, the remaining successful C4C candidate, Roy McTaggart, also finally crossed the floor of the House, boosting the government’s numbers to thirteen, including the speaker.

As a result, the automatic return of Hewitt would not alter government’s majority but it would necessitate a Cabinet reshuffle. In addition, the PPM would certainly welcome the opportunity to have one of their own returned to the seat in the district, or Mervin Smith, River’s running mate, who came in sixth place, just seven votes behind Hewitt.

Related articles:

‘I am qualified’ Rivers claims (CNS, 17 July 2013)

CJ faces ‘enormous’ decision (CNS, 19 July 2013)

See election results and court list below.

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Category: Politics

Comments (23)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Get ready Mr Plumber Man!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I wish Tara much luck on Friday

  3. Anonymous says:

    And don't forget to file with the IRS every year as all US passport holders must do.

  4. And another Ting says:

    THe Hon Chief Justice has a tough one here so let us pray and hope that his judgment is unflawed, or there will be more to come, in the never ending sga of Kayman politricks.

  5. sarah says:

    If and only If they decide Ms Tara has to step aside what will happen? Will Westbay have to vote again for who they want in? As those that voted for Ms Tara may not want the fourth place candidate in.

    • Word says:

      Word on the Marl Road is that Alden has selected Winston to take over her ministry, and that there would have to be a by-election in West Bay where Rolly hopes to run on the PPM Ticket. Talk about letting a fox into the fowl coop!

      • Anonymous says:

        Rolly might well hope that but it's not going to happen.

      • Anonymous says:

        How about Rolly and the other PNA take down the ughly plywood billboard they built to carry their posters during the last election.  it is an eyesore to West Bay and he should not even be allowed to run till it comes down.  it is an indication of how much he cares about West Bay.  The UDP and X-UDP only care about West Bay because of what it gets them  Not whet they can do for the west Bay people.  If the PPM were to pick Rolly up they will lose lots of supporters.  And I would start the exodus.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I hope Justice will be done and I don't mean the justice relating to who is liked or not liked.  I mean true justice.  Divided loyalties is unacceptable in the Legislative Assembly.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Tara, we have you in our prayers for a good outcome.  I live in a different district and could not vote for you but you are the best politician/legislator to come from there in decades.  God be with you. We love you. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Front row seat, pop corn and a glass of champagne pleeeeeeeese . oh no hold on rumn coke on the rocks is all i ask for come this friday !!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Please list the legislative accomplishments that make her “the best politician/legislator to come from there [West Bay] in decades”.

      • Anonymous says:

        You said it!

      • Anonymous says:

        You are are a real fool. How can anyone have "legislative accomplishments" before they actually enter the Legislative Assembly as a member? It is her personal and professional accomplishments, her acumen and brilliance to make her by far the best candidate. 

      • Anonymous says:

        If you look at the accomplishments of McKeeva and his extension cords over thelast 20 years (I will give him credit for his early years), then by default having done nothing is a better accomplishment.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I hope she stays & Continue her work! udp is not a capable candidate for no position here!

    Gt

    • Anonymous says:

      What about Rollie or CG?

      • Anonymous says:

        Are u serious, dem have amnesia for 12 years, only remember substance over process, den dem start talk like a parrot in last 6 months. Not again, go get a job. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        After Rollie and CG split from Mac West Bayers decided they didn't want them. Surprise Surprise, the rest of the country didn't want Mac or anyone associated with him but West Bay can't live without him.

        • Blessed says:

          West bayers can live without anyone. We just got enough sense to vote in soemone that looks after our interest.  Just like how GT voters always vote in Kurt.  Without Kurt PPM is history.

          • Anonymous says:

            You forgot to add that without McKeeva the UDP is history. After all he IS the UDP.

  9. Knot S Smart says:

    Ok folks forget about your church quarrel for a bit and lets bet on this – not in the casino like certain clean handed pure hearted christians like to do – but instead just go online to http://www.christianheritagegambling.com and place your bets…