Nov. 6, 2002 – Sweet sounds of victory hung in the air in the early hours of Wednesday morning, the morning after election day, when Gov. Charles W. Turnbull greeted hundreds of well-wishers gathered at his campaign headquarters at Mandela Circle on St. Thomas.
The faithful waited until after 2 a.m. Wednesday to hear from the incumbent governor, whose unofficial tally Tuesday night gave him 50.46 percent of the votes cast as Virgin Islanders went to the polls during the day. Imaginations Brass whipped up the crowd, heady from the music and the election results broadcast over local radio and television stations and the Internet.
Turnbull hoarsely explained he had flown back to St. Thomas from St. Croix after making an appearance at a victory celebration on the big island. He thanked his supporters and promised to "improve conditions" in the territory, after having spent much of his first term resolving fiscal emergencies.
"I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the trust and confidence you have put in me," the governor said.
Even more jubilant was the apparent lieutenant governor-elect, Sen. Vargrave Richards. He paraphrased the lyrics of an old calypso to describe the dominance Turnbull displayed in the election results over seven opponents vying for his office. "They say ten to one is murder … I say seven to one is unbelievable!" Richards said.
As the mounting unofficial tally began suggesting late Tuesday night that the incumbent Democrat had pulled off a first-ballot win, top party officials described some of the work they said lies ahead for the Turnbull administration in the next four years. Education will be a top priority, Elmo Adams Jr., Democratic Party St. Thomas-St. John District chair, said. After that, Adams said, would be an intensified effort to curb crime, address human services issues and re-build the economy of St. Croix.
Attorney General Iver Stridiron, speaking at the victory rally early Wednesday morning, said he already has received a stack of bills the governor wants prepared for delivery to the 24th Legislature, which has two more months of existence. But with the current Senate nearing its end, Stridiron acknowledged that some of the bills would not be moved until a new, Democrat-controlled 25th Legislature begins its deliberations in January.
The unofficial top seven finishers in the Senate races in each district included a total of eight Democrats — veteran lawmakers Lorraine Berry, Douglas Canton Jr., Roosevelt David and David Jones; and newcomers Louis Hill, Shawn-Michael Malone, Luther Renee and Ronald Russell.
Turnbull supporter Edgar "Baker" Phillips said he is looking forward to a unified government working on behalf of Virgin Islanders. He also expressed gratitude for actions already taken by the administration to pay wage hikes for government workers, himself included. "Everybody is happy here and pleased as to what the governor is doing. That's why they voted for him," he said.
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