Eight Democrats, one Republican, one ICM party member and four non-partisan candidates have filed to run in the April 8 special election to fill the St. Thomas/St. John V.I. Legislature seat left vacant after the V.I. Supreme Court ruled winning candidate Kevin Rodriquez is not eligible. Those 14 candidates have filed nomination packages but if any are disqualified or do not provide sufficient signatures, the ballot may have fewer candidates.
The eight Democrats are Lloyd Williams, former Sen. Patrick Sprauve, former Sen. Justin Harrigan, Barbara Petersen, Gustave Dowling, Darien Wheatley, Randolph Thomas and O’Neal Moolenaar. Robert Max Shanfarber is running as a Republican. Stephen “Smokey” Frett is running for the ICM party. Running as independents are Janelle Sarauw, Wilma Marsh Monsanto, Gilmore Estrill and Alma Francis Heyliger.
Gov. Kenneth Mapp called the special election earlier in February.
For months, Rodriquez was battling a court challenge to his eligibility to run for office. The legal action was filed in December by former senatorial candidate Janelle Sarauw, who came in eigth place – just below the cutoff to win a seat. Sarauw’s and campaign worker Brigitte Berry’s claims that Rodriquez doesn’t meet local residency requirements are based on testimony he gave in Tennessee bankruptcy court in 2016, saying that he was a resident of that state.
The case went through the V.I. Superior and Supreme Courts before Rodriquez filed to remove it to V.I. District Court and sought to have presiding Judge Curtis Gomez weigh in on whether the 32nd Legislature, after being sworn in, had the authority to seat him. In his opinion, Gomez dismissed Rodriquez’s and Sarauw’s cases and opened up the door for a special election, which the Elections System on Monday scheduled for April 8.
The Senate recently met in session to address loopholes in the recently enacted law that sought to establish a single Elections Board but appeared, in the meantime, to dissolve both district boards, which would make it difficult to hold and certify a special election. They voted to change some wording in the law to clarify how the boards will join into one board and also to postpone the unification of the two boards until after the April 8 election.
Anyone with questions can contact the Elections System offices on St. Thomas at 340-774-3107; on St. Croix at 340-773-1021; or on St. John at 340-776-6535.