May 2, 2006 — The horses, so to speak, are out of the gate.
As has been hinted at for months, Kenneth Mapp formally announced his bid for the governorship of the Virgin Islands at a Tuesday morning press conference held at Gertrude's Restaurant on St. Croix .
Mapp, who introduced former senator-at-large Almando "Rocky" Liburd as his running mate, touched on a number of problems facing the Virgin Islands and prioritized his primary concerns should he attain the highest office in the territory.
"We must become more responsible and not chase away businesses and opportunities. We don't have to choose between the business community and the working people," he announced to the enthusiastic crowd of approximately 50 persons. "There has been a lack of competent leadership, and our government employees are yearning for leadership. Many of our problems are homegrown, but the answers are within," he said.
However, Mapp also announced that the Virgin Islands are a part of the greatest nation on Earth and that there were many resources available to assist in finding solutions to the myriad of problems faced by the territory. He zeroed in on the territory's crime problem and stated that he was prepared to recruit outside leadership for the police department.
Mapp stated that within 90 days of his administration taking office, he would confront lawlessness and would spend whatever was necessary to get the job done.
Mapp, who said that he spoke with three individuals regarding the second seat, stated the job of lieutenant governor was no place for on-the-job training. Mapp is a former lieutenant governor; having served with former Gov. Roy L. Schneider.
Mapp lauded his running mate Liburd for his integrity, commitment to the people of the Virgin Islands, management experience and knowledge of government.
Liburd stated that his decision to run with Mapp was not a difficult one.
"The Virgin Islands is at a crossroads, and difficult decisions need to be made to improve our quality of life," he stated. "I am proud to say I have spent my career in the service of others and see the opportunity to seek the office of lieutenant governor as another opportunity to serve," he added.
Liburd provided a roll call of his accomplishments as a senator, which included scholarships for all high school valedictorians and salutatorians to the University of the Virgin Islands, the modernization of the legislative conference rooms on all three islands, the televising of legislative sessions and meetings, and the creation of the Imprest Fund for all public schools.
He stated that as lieutenant governor, he would seek to increase the insurance capacity, and, with the assistance of Delegate Donna Christensen, he would seek the repeal of the 1936 Organic Act section, which precludes the Virgin Islands from setting its own property taxes.
"We must stop this situation where our people are losing their property because they can't afford the taxes," he said, noting that he was responsible for the passage of a local law which enabled taxpayers to appeal increases in their property taxes.
Mapp stated that while he and his running mate had a myriad of experience and service between them, they did not have all the answers and would seek advice and counsel from the community in making decisions.
He cited as his primary concerns the infrastructure of Coral and Cruz Bay in St. John; the renovation of the Paul E. Joseph Stadium in St. Croix, and the development of the Charlotte Amalie Harbor and waterfront. He also cited the need to solve what he saw as a systemic problem in the educational system.
In a radical departure from the usual V.I. political rhetoric, Mapp declined to discuss the current administration, its commissioners or directors, stating that he was not there to "beat up on people or point fingers."
Mapp is running as an independent.
Editor's note: For candidate's platforms and opinions on topical issues, information and informed commentary about the 2006 election, keep checking the Source's Election 2006 section.
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