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Turnout Sparse for Constitutional Convention 2008 Delegate Election

June 12, 2007 — Voters dribbled in to polls in Cruz Bay and Coral Bay Tuesday to elect delegates to the upcoming Constitutional Convention.
At around 11:30 a.m., 46 people had voted at the Guy Benjamin School polling place in Coral Bay. At 12:30 p.m., 132 voters had passed through the Julius E. Sprauve School polls.
"These special elections are slow," said Yvonne Wells, judge at Benjamin School.
Gwendolyn Hyndman, judge at Sprauve School, echoed Wells' remarks, adding that this election was as slow as a primary election.
Several voters expressed strong opinions about the issues. Oscar James said he thinks the territory needs its own constitution, but doesn't believe the voters will approve the constitution crafted by the delegates elected Tuesday. Conflicting concerns of natives, locals and transients will derail the constitution, he believes.
"Native was the main issue last time," James said, referring to the 1980 attempt to pass a territorial constitution. He would like the constitution to include a provision that mandates the territory's governor be born in the territory.
St. John candidate Paul Devine campaigned outside Sprauve School. He attributed the poor turnout to the fact that voters weren't educated enough about the process or didn't care or know enough about the issues.
"Every person I talked to said they had no idea who any of the candidates were," Devine said. The candidates needed more time to get the word out about themselves, he said.
In Coral Bay, Bonny Corbeil set up a table to campaign for several candidates. For her, the problems plaguing St. John were the most important issues.
"We live here," she said. "Nobody's listening to us."
Wells said she heard numerous times that the voters didn't know one candidate from another. "Our response is, 'Do your best,'" she said.
Some voters spoke about the need for change in the way the territory is governed, which could come with the passage of a constitution.
"I don't like any part of being a territory rather than a full-fledged member of the United States," Andrew Yellen said. "And I can't vote for my president."
A constitution is necessary to get the territory past its colonial status, he said.
John Levering said he valued the opportunity to vote for the Constitutional Convention delegates.
"If we're going to make some changes, we need to have people who will make the best impact possible," he said.
Joe Kessler called the current way of governing under the Organic Act antiquated. Issues like property taxation were important to him and could be addressed under a territorial constitution, he said.
James had one suggestion to save the government money on future elections.
"Put it on a Saturday so you wouldn't have to take the kids out of school," he said.
Preliminary results:
At-Large Delegates
St. Thomas-St. John
Arturo Watlington Jr.: 4,065 votes
Craig Barshinger (St. John): 2,732 votes
St. Croix
Adelbert M. Bryan: 4,841 votes
Gerard Luz James II: 3,555 votes
St. Thomas-St. John District Delegates
Myron Jackson: 2,546 votes
Charles W. Turnbull: 2,482 votes
Alecia Wells (St. John): 2,186 votes
Lawrence "Larry" Sewer: 2,096 votes
Lois Hassell- Habtes: 2,082 votes
Clement "Cain" Magras: 2,015 votes
Elsie V. Thomas-Trotman (St. John): 1,890 votes
Stedmann Hodge Jr.: 1,747 votes
Thomas K. Moore: 1,695 votes
Francis Jackson: 1,680 votes
Mario Francis: 1,500 votes
Wilma Marsh Monsanto: 1, 499 votes
Lisa Williams: 1, 378 votes
St. Croix District Delegates
Dr. Eugene A. Petersen: 2,856 votes
Michael Thurland: 2,323 votes
Claire L. Roker: 2,094 votes
Rena Brodhurst: 1,894 votes
Doug Capdeville: 1,822 votes
Arnold M. Golden: 1,794 votes
Richard Schrader, Jr.: 1,775 votes
Gerard Marlow Emanuel: 1,588 votes
Mary L. Moorhead: 1,548 votes
Kendall "Seigo" Petersen: 1,504 votes
Violet Anne Golden: 1,498 votes
Robert "Bobby" Schuster: 1,479 votes
Douglas Brady: 1,457 votes
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