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Incumbents Get Top Votes in St. Thomas-St. John Senate Primary

Sept. 9, 2006 – Democratic incumbents Sens. Shawn-Michael Malone and Louis P. Hill were the top vote getters during Saturday's primary election, leading the Senate race in the St. Thomas-St. John district with 4,159 and 3,794 votes respectively.
If they win the November election, this will be the third term for both.
The remaining Democratic winners, who will most likely be on the November ballot for the General Election, were: Basil Ottley Jr. with 3,692 votes; Alvin L. Williams with 3,524 votes; the Rev. Toi Barbel with 2,321 votes; Horace T. Brooks with 2,238; and Patrick Simeon Sprauve with 2,150 votes.
According to the unofficial count, Ottley was only 102 votes behind his former boss, Hill.
Ottley had to leave Hill's employment when he ran for Senate, in accordance with V.I. law, which requires government employees to take a leave of absence when running for office.
Democratic incumbent for the senator-at-large seat, Sen. Craig W. Barshinger, kept a steady lead throughout the night, edging out Elsie Thomas-Trotman and William Belardo with 4,159 votes.
Trotman came in close behind Barshinger with less than 1,000 votes between them, while Belardo brought in 2,767 votes for the senator-at-large seat.
Though the senator-at-large is required to live on St. John, residents in both districts can vote for that seat.
Prior to being elected in 2004, Barshinger participated in the Senate race five times before beating out former senator-at-large Almando "Rocky" Liburd, who is currently running for lieutenant governor.
This is the first time Ottley, Barbel, Brooks and Sprauve have run for the Senate. Williams, however, participated in the past two senatorial elections.
Athneil "Bobby" Thomas was the eighth-highest vote getter Saturday, bringing in 2,048 votes, while Shirley Sadler and Niles "Nicky" Russell – also first time participants in the St. Thomas Senate race – lagged behind with 1,548 and 1,216 votes respectively.
At Election System headquarters on Saturday, voting patterns became evident early on, with Malone and Hill bringing in the most votes as early as 8:20 p.m. – approximately half an hour after the first set of ballot cartridges were delivered via Police escort from the Oswald Harris Court, Addelita Cancryn Junior High School and Winston Raymo Recreation Center polling sites.
Williams and Ottley, along with Barbel, Brooks and Sprauve, also kept a steady lead throughout the evening, as did Barshinger.
Primary winners were ecstatic after the final numbers were announced.
"I feel very good right now," Ottley said late Saturday night.
"And I'm so grateful to all the people who voted for me and supported me."
Ottley said he would be picking up his campaign efforts in preparation for the General Election in November.
"We can't take anything for granted because this is a different kind of race," he said. "I haven't been campaigning all that much, because I wanted to make sure I got through this stage first. But now, you're going to see all kinds of activities."
Hill had similar comments. "I didn't do much campaigning before the primary, really because we were engaged with Finance Committee meetings and looking at this year's budget. But I expect to go into full campaign mode now.
"It really is a wonderful occasion, though," he added. "The numbers show that the people are satisfied with the work we've been doing over the past few years, and I hope they continue to support us in the General Election."
The numbers, however, are still unofficial, since absentee ballots, provisional ballots and walk-ins (residents who voted early) have not yet been counted. According to Lawrence Boschulte, chairman of the St. Thomas-St. John district Board of Elections, provisional and walk-in votes will be counted on Monday, while absentee ballots will not be tallied for the next 10 days.
When asked whether the remaining votes will have any sway on who wins the St. Thomas-St. John Senate race, Boschulte said, "Nothing is guaranteed. But I don't think that it will make that much of a difference."
District board member Alecia Wells said the number of provisional votes in the St. Thomas-St. John district is "not even in the hundreds."
She also said, however, that absentee ballots and walk-ins could still affect the Senate race. "We won't know for a little while yet," she said.
Elections officials said they did not yet know how many voters turned out in each district. However, final figures show that the total voter turnout for the territory was 14,338.
According to Boschulte, 17,000 residents from the St. Thomas-St. John district could have voted in Saturday's primary. However, he said he did not think that voter turnout within the two islands had hit the 10,000 mark by the time polls closed at 7 p.m.
"I told you so," Boschulte said. Over the past few months, Boschulte and other Board of Elections members have tangled with Democratic state chair Cecil R. Benjamin over whether to open all 14 polling sites within the district. While the board reluctantly agreed to do so – after Benjamin had slapped them with an injunction – Boschulte has repeatedly said that voter turnout would not top 10,000.
"I'm the only board member that voted against opening all the polls," he said Saturday, after the final numbers had been tallied. "I didn't expect a bigger turnout than this."
Saturday's winners will join a larger pool of candidates during the General Election in November, including senatorial incumbents Celestino A. White Sr. and Liston Davis.
Also on the ballot will be former senators Carlton Dowe, Norma Pickard-Samuel and Stephen "Smoky" Frett.
Rounding out the ballot for St. Thomas will be Lorelei Monsanto, Ada Hodge, Leslie Smith II and Ludrick "Ludie" Thomas.
Barshinger will also face off against ICM candidate Carmen M. Wesselhoft in the General Election for the senator-at-large seat.
"It's really going to be exciting," Barbel said at Elections headquarters on Saturday. "It's been a lot of hard work so far, and it's going to continue to be a lot of hard work, but it's definitely going to be worth it if we get another woman in the Senate."
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