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HomeNewsArchivesSt. Thomas Polls Boast High Voter Turnout

St. Thomas Polls Boast High Voter Turnout

Posing in Frenchtown, deJongh-Francis supporters Henry Richardson (right) and family .The polls may have opened at 7 a.m., but at some stations on St. Thomas, residents were out even earlier, ready to be among the first to cast votes in what many said was an "historic" gubernatorial election.
According to Police officers manning the scene at Charlotte Amalie High School Tuesday morning, the lines started forming around 6:30 a.m. and continued well past 8 a.m., when Gov. John deJongh Jr. came to vote. Judges said the numbers had already hit the hundreds at that time, and deJongh said later he expects that people really care about the issues, particularly those, such as crime and education, which have become major topics of discussion during the campaign season.
"I just left Sibilly School, where Cecile was voting, and a tremendous amount of people came out there, too," he said. "You know, there are so many issues out there that I think the people want to be engaged with them, and show that they’re supportive of the policies that Greg and I have laid down over the past three years."
While "optimistic" about his chances of being reelected, deJongh said he’s still not taking anything for granted, and was later seen out front of CAHS campaigning with his supporters.
"I’d say it’s looking good," he added later. "I think that some of the solutions proposed by my opponent, people see that some of them are already being implemented, or are just not viable. And the people know that when they’re voting."
A few hours later, Joseph Sibilly Elementary was still packed, with supporters, government officials and even some of the candidates lining the roadways.
"The people just keep coming, and it hasn’t stopped yet," said Elections judge Bernice Samuel.
Dressed in matching white deJongh-Francis outfits, St. Thomas-Water Island Administrator Barbara Petersen, brother Bert, and mom Candia got numerous shouts from the crowd as they made their way toward the polls.
Bert Petersen flies home to the territory from New York every election, and this year was no different.
Supporters for Kenneth Mapp and Malik Sekou swarm the streets outside Joseph Sibilly Elementary (James Gardner photo)."I wouldn’t miss it for the world," he said. "It’s always nice to come home and see the people come out, and I think at this time, we’re at a critical point in V.I. history when the leadership going forward is going to play a vital role in our economic success and moral fortitude. And I think it’s a clear choice who that needs to be.”
Across the street, a large contingent of Kenneth Mapp and Malik Sekou supporters disagreed. Shaking large signs and screaming, "time for something new" every time one of their campaign vans drove by, they worked to match the enthusiasm from the other side.
"There’s been an enormously great turnout," said Mapp-Sekou supporter David Romo, who said that no matter the competition, it was "encouraging" to see how many people were "exercising their Democratic right to vote."
"I’ve been here 32 years, and this is what I live for," he said. "Every two years, like clockwork, I’ll be here."
By noon, judges at Sibilly had counted more than 700 voters.
Along with the adults, there were several students campaigning Tuesday, pushing for new candidates, such as Dwane Callwood and Shirley Sadler.
"We need a ‘big woman for a big job,’" said 12-year-old Kimal Caines, quoting Sadler’s motto. "I like that she said she was going to fix the roads because they are really bad, and she is also wants to help with the crime and how criminals are punished."
Caines said running for senator is not in his cards when he grows up, but that he is looking forward to casting his first vote when he turns 18.
Over at Joseph Gomez Elementary, Sadler was toting two more students on the campaign trail to St. John, saying that many of them had never been over there, and should be given the opportunity to go. Students from Jane E. Tuitt Elementary, Bertha C. Boschulte Middle School and Addelita Cancryn Junior High had signed up to work on the campaign, and Sadler said that’s because the students understand it’s time for them to get more involved in the issues.
Gomez was another school that had almost 600 voters by 10 a.m.
"You go to the polls hoping for the best," Sadler said when asked about her chances of winning a seat in the packed St. Thomas-St. John senatorial race.
Enthusiasm was unbounded Tuesday in front of Cancryn, where volunteers—ranging from 15-year-old Dellaney Thomas to 92-year-old Zeathea Armstrong—had campaign signs held high.
Amisha Schnidt, a Charlotte Amalie High School student, waving a Clarence Payne for Senate sign, said she supported Payne "because he has helped the youth get jobs, and he cares about the environment."
Thomas, another Payne supporter from Charlotte Amalie High School, said he was an old hand at campaigning. "I’ve been doing this for three years," he said dismissively.
Another youngste,r Germequa Bell worked her way into the crowd with an Alvin Williams for Senate sign. "I’m supporting him because he helps in organizing our youth group, Sparks," she said.
Lending a little maturity to the young crowd, Louis Simeon, a contented-looking fellow in a bright red Sprauve for Senate T-shirt, said he was an old hand at this as well. However, his credentials stacked up a bit higher than Thomas’.
Simeon, who said he is the candidate’s uncle, said he has supported former governors Cyril King, Roy Schneider, Juan Luis and now "the one and only deJongh."
Crowds were thick at Cancryn and at Ulla Muller Elementary School, mingling with one another and trading friendly jibes about their candidates.
Ten-year-old C’Anne Hunt Richardson, a Muller fifth-grader, shared some definite thoughts on her candidate, Gov. John deJongh Jr.
"He is good for education," she said, which caused her mother, Cindy Richardson, to do a double-take. The youngster continued, "He got us toilet paper and text books."
"Yes, he did," she told her mom.
Muller poll judge Francis Wenner said the day had been "busy, but peaceful. No fussing, no problems." That was shortly after 3 p.m., when the school had already racked up 902 voters.

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