Nov. 6, 2002 – The voting for the territory's two Boards of Elections is always overshadowed by the high-stakes gubernatorial and Senate races, but, like those more prominent races, they often produce a change of faces in places where decision-making affects a broad segment of the population.
Each district Board of Elections has seven members. The St. Thomas-St. John district one consists of five members from St. Thomas and two from St. John.
Territorywide, six of the boards' 16 seats were on the ballots in Tuesday's race.
In the St. Croix Board of Elections race, two of the three incumbents running for re-election lost their seats. Dodson K. James, who chairs the seven-member board, and Humberto O'Neal were ousted, while colleague Evelyn Messer James hung on to her seat.
Dodson James and O'Neal will be replaced by Rupert Ross Jr., the top vote getter, and Raymond Williams, who placed third. Unsuccessful challenger David Benjamin trailed Dodson James.
The unofficial tally Tuesday night for the St. Croix board was:
Rupert Ross Jr. — 4,608.
Evelyn Messer James — 4,081.
Raymond Williams — 3,397.
Dodson K. James — 3,241.
David Benjamin — 2,637.
Humberto O'Neal — 2,065.
Ross, Evelyn James and Williams will join continuing board members Ana Davila, Carmen Golden, Reuben Fenton and Arthur Joseph.
In the St. Thomas race, two seats were up for grabs: those of George Blackhall, whose term expires in January, and of Shawn-Michael Malone, who ran for a seat in the Legislature (finishing seventh in unofficial results). The territory's election law prevents a person from running for two public offices in the same election.
Voters returned Blackhall to his post and replaced Malone with former Sen. Arturo Watlington Jr. Challengers Thomas Dunn and Leon Alvin Powell finished out of the running.
The unofficial St. Thomas results were:
Arturo Watlington — 7,001.
George Blackhall — 2,411.
Thomas "Tom" Dunn — 2,300.
Leon Alvin Powell — 2,264.
On St. John, where Donna Roberts' seat expires in January, voters gave her another term with 3,559 votes. She beat out Aubrey Bridgewater Jr., who got 3,473 votes.
On the St. Thomas-St. John board, Watlington, Blackhall and Roberts will join Larry Boschulte, Phyliss Massac and Kevin Rodriquez from St. Thomas and Alecia M. Wells from St. John.
The two boards oversee elections in their respective districts and set rules and regulations governing their conduct. On occasions of territorial interest, they function together as the Joint Boards of Elections.
In that capacity, they established a rule last summer that prohibited campaigning within 1,000 feet of polling places on election days. The St. Croix board subsequently backed off, returning to its former 25-foot restriction, leaving the 1,000-foot rule in effect for St. Thomas and St. John, except that on Monday a District Court judge issued a temporary restraining order against its enforcement for Tuesday's elections. A court hearing is set for Nov. 14 on what the permanent fate of the more extensive restriction will be.
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