Sept. 15, 2002 – Democrats territorywide chose Craig Barshinger on Saturday as their candidate for senator-at-large in the November elections, and St. Croix Democrats gave incumbents Douglas E. Canton Jr. and David Jones and challengers Juan Figueroa-Serville, Luther Renee, Ronald Russell, Michael Thurland and Ophelia Williams-Felix the go-ahead to be on the ballot.
In the deja vu contest between two St. Thomas residents for state chair of the Democratic Party, incumbent James O'Bryan soundly defeated former chair Marylyn Stapleton. Republicans, meanwhile, chose James Oliver of St. Croix as their state chair over Lawrence Boschulte and April Newland, both of St. Thomas.
The voter turnout was light — just 1,540 persons throughout the territory fit going to the polls into their rainy Saturday schedules. That's a little more than 4 percent of the 36,780 registered voters who identify themselves as members of one of the territory's three political parties — 31,372 Democrats, 3,247 Republicans and 2,161 Independent Citizens Movement members. But even with the small number of voters, new procedures caused problems in tabulating the results.
Saturday was the first time the Board of Elections used the Internet to submit polling results from St. John, where electronic ballot cartridges had previously been delivered by ferry to election headquarters on St. Thomas. Supervisor of Elections John Abramson Jr. said it took longer than expected to open the e-mail, which delayed tabulations Saturday night.
Delays also occurred on St. Thomas when elections officials discovered some cartridges had been left in voting machines instead of ejected and sent along with the others to headquarters. In these cases, Abramson said, it appeared the voting machines had gone unused, but the cartridges needed to be submitted for inclusion in the tabulations, anyway.
The votes by which Democrats on St. Croix picked their slate of candidates to run for the 25th Legislature:
The at-large votes:
Craig Barshinger — 1,217
Harry Daniel — 1,139
Barshinger, making his fourth run, drew his strongest support from St. Croix, while newcomer Daniel, who waged a strong campaign of print and media ads, fared better in the St. Thomas-St. John district. Both live on St. John — a requirement for the at-large senator.
The St. Croix Democratic senate race results:
Luther Renee, University of the Virgin Islands staff Public Services Commission member — 1,170.
Douglas E. Canton Jr., incumbent — 1,162.
David S. Jones, incumbent — 1,135.
Ronald Russell, a lawyer in private practice — 1,095.
Michael Thurland, chief of staff for Sen. Emmett Hansen II –976.
Ophelia "Nenny" Williams-Felix, deputy commissioner for Housing Parks and Recreation — 853.
Juan Figueroa-Serville, a UVI senior — 784.
Eliminated from the field of 10 were Elroi Baumann, Malcolm Harris and Mary Ann Pickard.
Abramson said the turnout was better than in the last primary election, in 2000, when 1,100 cast their ballots. Only registered members of the territory's three political parties — Democratic, Republican and Independent Citizens Movement — could vote, and only in the races of their respective parties.
But at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, at Joseph Gomez School on St. Thomas, Abramson pronounced the tally as of noon of 614 persons on St. Thomas and about 1,000 on St. Croix "very bad." He commented then, "I keep saying there are better things to spend our money on" than government-run primary elections.
Because of budgetary constraints, elections officials reduced the number of polling places to three on St. Thomas, three on St. Croix and two on St. John.
Abramson said said he didn't know how much the tab would end up being for the primary.
In addition to allowing party members to select candidates for the November general election, the primary election is used by the three parties to select their own officers.
For Democratic Party state chair, the results were:
James O'Bryan — 1,377.
Marylyn Stapleton — 863.
For Republic Party state chair, the results were:
James Oliver — 72.
April Newland — 38.
Lawrence Boschulte — 37.
In the race for Democratic St. Thomas-St. John district chair, Elmo Adams defeated Carla Joseph, 577 to 334.
In the St. Croix district chair race, Democrats overwhelmingly picked schools superintendent Terrence Joseph over Irving Straun, 987 to 214.
In the Board of Elections race on St. Croix, with six Democrats vying for three ballot slots in November, Rupert Ross Jr., Evelyn Messer-James and Dodson K. James emerged victorious with 795, 726 and 614 votes, respectively.
Editor's note: Shaun A. Pennington contributed to this report.
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