June 9 — Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean thrilled local party members Friday with a speech about party unity that also blasted Republicans at a meeting held at the Marriott Frenchman's Reef Hotel on St. Thomas.
Dean said Republicans and the White House sought to divide voters, preying on Americans' prejudicial fears about abortion and same-sex marriage.
"We will not divide America by different groups because we have to be together to rebuild our country," he said.
Dean lashed out at Republicans:
"You can't trust the Republicans with your money. You can't trust the Republicans with your health. You can't trust the Republicans to defend the United States of America. You can't trust the Republicans to give us honest and open government. You can't trust the Republicans to give you a good education. You can't trust the Republicans so we have to stick together," he said.
Dean said Virgin Islanders, Puerto Ricans, and others living in U.S. territories should have the right to vote in federal elections.
He said the issue would likely be considered in earnest if Democrats retake Congress.
"It's certainly something I intend to push for, but it remains to be seen if we regain the Senate and House," said Dean, the former Vermont governor and 2004 Democratic presidential candidate.
"Right now you all can't vote for the elections that I spend most of my time working on. But this party is committed to equal justice under the law. And that means equal voting under the law. And that means, until the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam, and Samoa and the District of Columbia have the same ability to petition their president, that this country has citizens that are not equal under the law. We're going to change that," he said.
"I believe there hadn't ought to be any second-class citizens," Dean said.
Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards, Judge Edgar Ross and businessman John deJongh, all expected to vie to be the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, attended the meeting.
Senate President Lorraine Berry added fuel to the rumor she plans to run for governor or lieutenant governor, announcing at the podium that she would be "on a ticket." She did not say in what capacity.
Dean urged more women to run for the Virgin Islands Legislature.
The Virgin Islands primary elections are scheduled for Sept. 9.
Committee Chairwoman and former Sen. Carol Burke addressed the audience on a similar front.
"In politics, we often look to who is the majority. Let me tell you, the only majority in this party is women," she said. "It is my greatest wish that women supported women more."
Three women and two men were honored at the luncheon for their work with the political party: Doris Encarnacion, Clemmie Moses, Delores Thomas, Leslie Millner and Colin W.S. Hodge.
Encarnacion is a backbone of the St. Croix Democrats, working on campaigns for the party since 1960.
Moses of St. John handed out pamphlets and helped register voters for elections dating back to then-candidate John F. Kennedy.
Kennedy also loomed large in the life of Thomas, who has worked tirelessly with island youth, advocating anti-drug and after school programs.
Millner is a member of the Port Authority Governing Board and several other organizations. He served on the St. Thomas-St. John Board of Directors for 14 years.
Hodge, a Crucian Democrat, advocates anti-gun measures and nonviolence through concerts and other events.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.