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Candidates and criminal convictions: are the regulations fair?

Should a criminal conviction bar a person from becoming a candidate for public office?

According to the constitution, any person who has been sentenced to more than 12 months prison time for any offence, or has been convicted of a crime involving dishonesty is ineligible for nomination.

Some say these restrictions are arbitrary, and take the power to choose away from the voters.

“I did decide that I was going to run for Cayman Brac, and after reviewing some of the parts of the elections law, I realized that it’s quite biased,” said Kerry Tibbetts, lead administrator of the ‘I am Caymanian, where are my rights’ social media page. “I don’t feel that the law is fair.”

She told Cayman 27 a conviction on her police record shouldn’t disqualify her from seeking elected office.

“Some ex-convicts can run, but not all, and it should either be none, or there should be an opening for others,” said Ms. Tibbetts.

Ms. Tibbetts admitted serving 51 weeks for stealing from her employer back in the late 90’s. She said the voters should be the ones to decide whether a past conviction is a dealbreaker.

“I see that there are individuals that we have committed in this country for being a pedophile or child molester, the courts gave them a six months sentence,” she said.

“I think it’s a bit arbitrary,” said potential political hopeful Kent McTaggart.

He told Cayman 27 the current restrictions regarding convictions paints with too broad a brush. He said excepting the very worst offences, the people should make the choice.

“In the context of our laws, its pretty cut and dry that she shouldn’t be going there,” said Mr. McTaggart. “But it’s her prerogative and I wouldn’t personally stand in her way at all. I would never vote for her, but at the end of the day, if she wants to throw it in there and that’s what the people want to send? Go ahead.”

“I’m going to let the process begin, and let the process go about its business,” said Ms. Tibbetts.

She told Cayman 27 she intends to go ahead with her bid to represent Cayman Brac east, and said she’s ready to fight if challenged.

“If I am challenged, well, I have a counter-challenge, so I’m ready for that challenge,” she said.

Elections supervisor Wesley Howell told us he’s unable to comment on the details of Ms. Tibbetts eligibility.

Under the elections law, a person who signs a nomination paper knowing the person is not qualified to be elected is committing an offence that carries a $2,000 fine.

About the author

Joseph Avary

Joseph Avary

Joe Avary joined the Cayman 27 team in January 2014, bringing nearly two decades of experience in TV news to the islands. He spends his time away from the office scuba diving, practicing yoga, and trying to make his friends laugh at his comedic stylings. He proudly calls the district of West Bay home, and loves nothing more than relaxing visits to the Sister Islands.

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