Former Carnival Queen Turns Into Warrior Princess in Fight for Senate Seat

Janelle Sarauw, the eighth place candidate for a seat in the 32nd Legislature St. Thomas-St. John District, says political rival Kevin Rodriquez should be removed from the list of certified winners in the 2016 general election.

ST. THOMAS — A defeated contender for the 32nd Legislature has taken the winner of the sixth seat in the St. Thomas-St. John district to court. Candidate Janelle Sarauw, holder of the eighth position in a seven seat race, says candidate Kevin Rodriguez falsified the application used to determine eligibility.

Sarauw and campaign supporter Brigitte Berry asked a Superior Court judge to convene an evidentiary hearing to look into the merits of the case. The challenger is the 2003 VI Carnival Queen turned political science lecturer at the University of the Virgin Islands.

Controversy over Rodriguez’s certified election win began Nov. 21, when Berry submitted a letter to Fawkes and members of the district elections board. In that letter she accused Rodriguez of stating he met the three-year residency requirement to run for Senate when he did not.

On Dec. 9 attorney Berry filed a motion for an emergency action for declaratory and injunctive relief.

Court documents point to a January 2016 bankruptcy where Rodriguez checked off a box, indicating he lived in the states for two years prior. The Democratic candidate listed an address in Nashville, stating that he lived there with his wife and two children.

A hearing would quickly settle the matter, Berry said. If put on the witness stand and asked to state where he lived in 2014 and 2015 Rodriguez would either have to state a falsehood under oath or invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination under the U.S. Constitution.

The filing also asked the court to act quickly because Sarauw, as the candidate in the eighth position for the Legislature in St. Thomas-St. John district, would be irreparably harmed if Rodriguez’s certification is allowed to stand and she is denied a chance to claim a Senate seat by forfeiture.

Several days ago Rodriguez said he completed the bankruptcy filing in Tennessee under advice of legal counsel and was dismayed to see others try to use it as a political ploy against him. The holder of the sixth seat in the 32nd Legislature also said he is a VI resident and met the 3-year requirement.