The St. Croix District Board of Elections meeting Wednesday ended in chaos, with multiple motions made to unseat the chairwoman current at the beginning of the meeting and the subsequent chairman apparently seated during the session.
Lilliana Belardo de O’Neal was board chairwoman as the meeting got underway.
Glenn Webster, who initially was board secretary, moved that Belardo de O’Neal be removed from heading the board because, he said, of collusive action with her husband she had tried “to deliberately defraud the people of the Virgin Islands.”
After the motion was seconded, Belardo de O’Neal said, “Hearing no objection, the motion passes.”
Having no discussion on the motion seemed to upset board member Adelbert "Bert" Bryan, who said, “We cannot tell what we are talking about.”
Other board members argued that there was no sense having a discussion on the motion since it passed.
Webster took over as chairman of the board and Belardo de O’Neal immediately moved that he be removed as board chairman. There was an argument over whether she had been recognized formally and could make the motion.
Both Belardo de O’Neal and Webster had papers to support their motions and both distributed the papers to board members.
Webster’s papers were a report from polling precinct official Patricia Frorup that alleged Belardo de O’Neal, who was also a candidate, used her position on the district elections board to inappropriately gain access to a polling station and to information. It also alleged that Belardo de O’Neal was rude to poll workers. The incident allegedly happened during early voting at the Board of Elections office.
Belardo de O’Neal’s papers included a formal complaint from Terrell Alexandre, administrative assistant to the board, about an encounter he had with Webster. He alleges that Webster has been “very disrespectful and demeaning” to him. The report also referred to Facebook postings by Webster that Alexandre said were lies. Attached to the complaint letters were some Facebook posting that were allegedly defamatory of Alexandre. Webster told the Source that he did make those posts.
Bryan called for a recess so board members could look over the documents being presented to them but his request was ignored.
At one point, Webster was standing and yelling across the table at Belardo de O’Neal, who was seated with a big smile.
Board member Raymond J. Williams was standing beside her, telling Webster to calm down. “There are cameras,” he said.
Earlier in the meeting, when the arguments began, board member Roland Moolenaar said, “This isn’t funny anymore.” Later, he’d had enough.
Moolenaar said he was leaving and began walking around the Board of Elections conference room shaking hands and wishing everyone happy holidays.
No motion was made to adjourn the meeting. No one knew if the meeting was over or even who was running the meeting.
St. Croix District Board of Elections meetings have been chaotic before, but this one was particularly unruly.
One by one, board members left the room. Bryan was the last member in the room with the press and the audience. “This means Webster is board chair,” Bryan said.
Outside the conference room, Belardo de O’Neal was smiling as she told the Source, “This is the best thing that could happen to me. I am going to go see Trump’s inauguration and I don’t have any worries.”
Before the chaos broke out, the board discussed an Election Assistance Commission update. The Election System has three remaining deficiencies from a federal audit, and election staff reported they had met with a consultant who is reviewing the situation and will be making recommendations on how to resolve those matters. The deficiencies appear to be the result of missing documents.
Bryan moved that board members be allowed to question the consultant when the recommendations are made.
The board also directed Caroline Fawkes, supervisor of Elections, to communicate with the office’s landlord to find out whose responsibility it was to take correction action at the building.