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HomeNewsArchivesCalls for Local Government Resound at Constitution 2008 Candidates Forum

Calls for Local Government Resound at Constitution 2008 Candidates Forum

June 7, 2007 — More than 60 residents came out Thursday night to hear from candidates vying for a spot as a delegate to the V.I. Constitution, with local government dominating the discussion.
The special election, a holiday in the Virgin Islands, is set for Tuesday.
Thirty of the 54 delegates for the St. Croix district introduced themselves to potential voters and fielded questions from the audience during a forum at Sunshine Mall sponsored by the University of the Virgin Islands.
Tregenza Roach, who has coordinated what many have come to know simply as Constitution 2008 for UVI, sought to make getting to know the prospective candidates simpler. As he explained it to the audience, Roach would read a question and then the first seven candidates would have a chance to answer. The next question would be answered by the following seven candidates, and so on.
The candidates present Thursday night represented a cross section of the community. They ranged from ordinary citizens and farmers to news journalists and lawyers, as well as former senators and teachers.
Throughout the forum, which was broadcast live on WRRA radio, one common theme was hatched: equality for the island of St. Croix.
“I believe in municipal government,” said Dr. Eugene A. Petersen of Frederiksted. “I believe in bringing the representatives close to home.”
Avis newspaper owner/publisher Rena Brodhurst, from Christiansted, said she was running to “bring fairness to the districts.”
Carole Burke, a former senator, said her “biggest concern” was that St. Croix “has gotten the short end of the stick." She continued, "This Constitution is the answer.”
Edwin Thomas, maintenance director with the V.I. Housing Authority, said he once advocated St. Croix separating from St. Thomas but that he has “tempered those beliefs, and now, looking at municipal government, St. Croix has been shortchanged.”
Assistant Public Defender H. Hanibal O’Bryan said he, too, was running to “give a voice” to St. Croix.
Attorney Douglas Capdeville, a former legislative assistant, said he too wanted “more responsible” government for St. Croix
Other candidates were specific in their reasons for running, noting that they would like to see an attorney general elected, having land set aside for agriculture, improving health care and the public school system and decreasing the number of senators. Gloria H. Canegata Waterman took time during her introduction to point out that the Constitution is a framework to govern the islands.
Callers to radio talk shows have been suggesting minute details to be included in the constitution, she said.
“A constitution will not resolve issues being bandied about on the radio daily but will be a guide — a framework," Waterman said. "It’s not (inclusive of) the details that I’m hearing.”
During a question-and-answer session, one audience member asked about the commitment of prospective delegates. All said they would be committed to the process. Another question: “What provisions should be including in the Constitution regarding the natural environment of the Virgin Islands?”
Most agreed that land and water uses — especially setting aside land for agriculture — should be a top priority.
Another question: “With 30 delegates with different ideas, different agendas, how would you work at getting a consensus on an idea or change?"
All agreed that it would take respect for each other, and listening to suggestions without judgment would go a long way toward building that consensus.
Present at Thursday's forum were Dr. Chen Kahina, Frederiksted; Robert “Bob” Hoffman, Christiansted; Dr. Eugene A. Petersen, Frederiksted; Carol Burke, Christiansted; Violet Anne Golden, Christiansted; Evelyn Messer James, Frederiksted; Rena Brodhurst, Christiansted; Carl F. Christopher, Frederiksted; Gloria Canegata Waterman, Christiansted; Gerard Marlow Emanuel, Christiansted; Kendall “Seigo” Petersen, Frederiksted; Merrily Burch, Frederiksted; Doug Capdeville, Christiansted; Douglas Brady, Christiansted; Rael Sackey, Frederiksted; Charles E. Tilson, Christiansted; H. Hanibal O’Bryan, Frederiksted, Robert “Bobby” Schuster, Christiansted; Edwin A. Thomas, Christiansted; Daniel “Danny” Coughlin, Frederiksted; Percival Edwards, Frederiksted; Sandra Bastian-Carty, Christiansted; Omar B.U. Henry, Christiansted; Cecil R. Benjamin, Christiansted; Martin P. Merrick, Christiansted; Mary L. Moorhead, Frederiksted.
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