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'Senatorial Showdown' on Tap for St. Croix

Sept. 29, 2008 — With the general election looming in five weeks, the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce and the St. Croix Hotel and Tourism Association will host a "Senatorial Showdown" for senatorial candidates.
The candidates' nights will run from 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 21 and 23 at Island Center on St. Croix. The forums will be broadcast live on Sunny 99.5 FM and WSTX 970 FM. The public is invited to attend.
"We want to go beyond campaign slogans and focus on the issues," said chamber Director Michael Dembeck.
The two at-large and 21 St. Croix senatorial candidates will be divided into four panels, with two panels answering questions each night. Who will appear when is yet to be decided, Dembeck said.
The chamber is gathering possible questions from its members. Those questions are due by Oct. 6. Once the chamber is done processing member questions, it will accept questions from the public, Dembeck said.
The questions should pertain to legislative issues rather than dealing with the administrative or judicial branches of government, he said. By asking germane questions, candidates who are elected can be held accountable for their responses once they take office, Dembeck said.
At issue for the chamber is how the candidates will help St. Croix's business community and what they will do to open the door to bring new business investors to St. Croix.
"The bottom line is, what can we look at from the 28th Legislature when it comes to attracting business, retaining business and expanding business?" Dembeck said.
The cost of doing business is a major concern. St. Croix businesses face expensive electric bills, high transportation costs, gross receipts and excise taxes that hurt the bottom line, and a cumbersome permitting process, Dembeck said.
"Somebody comes from off island and has to go through the hoops," he said. "It can take six months."
Questions about the territory's Economic Development Commission tax-benefits package are also likely, Dembeck said.
Send questions to the St. Croix Chamber. For more information, call Dembeck at 773-1435.
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