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Thursday, September 28, 2023


June 26, 2002 – Republican Party gubernatorial candidate Michael Bornn and his running mate, Arnold "Morty" Golden, made whistle stops on all three major islands Tuesday in officially kicking off their campaign.
Bornn, who had already opened campaign headquarters on St. Thomas and St. Croix, and Golden made their first appearance in Frederiksted — at the Pier 69 restaurant, which faces the harbor where, as a result of cruise line pullouts, no passenger ships are scheduled to call until the end of October.
The territory's current "so-called leaders," Bornn said, "have defrauded us. They have failed to educate us, they have failed to prepare us for the future and they have taken our resources and squandered them for their own personal gain."
"Some 108,000 people live in the V.I.," he said. "We collect $800 million in local and federal funds. We do not have a revenue problem. We have an expense problem."
The St. Thomas businessman, who was tapped by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull to serve as Tourism commissioner two years ago and then un-tapped while serving in an active capacity prior to confirmation, told listeners that the outcome of the fall elections will ride on "your most valuable asset, your vote."
He added, "Our opponents are scared of you. They do not want you to become engaged. They want you to stay home … Only 30,000 people voted in the last two elections — meaning 45,000 people are not registered to vote or did not vote the last two times. This is horrendous."
The Bornn-Golden platform calls for the creation of a public-private Tourism Authority, something the hospitality industry lobbied for and the Legislature approved but Turnbull rejected with his veto power. The Republican team also advocates the establishment of an Insurance and Banking Board run by industry professionals and government representatives, massive reform in how schools are run, and new emphasis on commercial agriculture including a major expansion of aquaculture.
Golden, a St. Croix resident and onetime commissioner of the old Commerce Department, left his lifelong affiliation with the Democratic Party to run with Bornn as a Republican. He told the Pier 69 audience he didn't see that as disloyalty, because the party is not represented by the Democrats now occupying Government House. "I truly respect the many Democrats who have shared my vision for our islands," he said. "I was invited to campaign and give advice to Democratic candidates during the last election. I thought that I had been heard, but unfortunately, I was not."
He said he shares Bornn's "vision to improve the lot of our Virgin Islands, to attack crime head-on, to give the St. Croix tourism industry the attention it needs … and to bring integrity back to government."
Bornn, pledging to represent all Virgin Islanders, native and otherwise, said the territory's racial, cultural and lingual diversity "is our asset. We must build on it, not let it divide and conquer us."
At the second stop, in front of Charlotte Amalie High School on St. Thomas, Bornn proposed ways to approach the myriad problems facing the public educational system, according to a release.
At the final stop, in Cruz Bay Park on St. John, he focused on the Republican team's plans "to empower the individual islands so decisions could be made as close to home as possible," the release stated.
Bornn described his Republicanism as a blend of fiscal conservatism and social liberalism. He said that Golden, with a reputation as a party-builder and a history of government and management experience, brings to the ticket the ability to implement the ideas that they want to advance.

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