Dozens of faces vie for the territory’s 15 V.I. Legislature seats every two years, so how can voters get a clear look at where they all stand on the important issues facing the territory, without relying on self-serving campaign materials or a handful of candidate forums where they may not even be asked the same questions?
We at the V.I. Source are asking every senatorial candidate 10 questions, to fairly give every candidate an opportunity to tell our readers about themselves and where they stand on some of the most important issues of the day.
We sent the questionnaires to the email addresses the candidates filed with the Office of Elections with their nomination papers. Candidates were asked to respond by Sunday, Oct. 4, and we will publish the responses as we get them. We will have a collective response article with links to individual response articles by mid-October and will note the senators who do not respond.
Here are the questions we asked:
1) What will be your top priority as a legislator and why?
2) The V.I. government had ongoing deficits before the pandemic hit and now faces a sharp loss in revenue due to a significant decrease in tourism. How can the territory avoid a fiscal shortfall that could force cuts to services and government layoffs in order to pay creditors first?
3) How will you help make the government more transparent?
4) The V.I. Legislature has on many occasions enacted unfunded mandates, from mandatory swimming classes or the unfunded Durant Tower project in Frederiksted, that never occur due to the lack of funding. Will you vote for mandates that government officials have testified require funding that is not provided in the legislation?
5) The territory has around 120 boards and commissions at present, most of which are unable to make quorums and many, like the Civil Rights Commission, Maritime Academy Board, Commission on Caribbean Cooperation and V.I. Wage Board, have not operated in many years. Would you ever vote to create another board or commission and if so, under what circumstances?
6) What would you propose to address the collapse of GERS in light of the $3 billion-plus shortfall and projected exhaustion of all funds between 2020 and 2024?
7) Where do you stand on medicinal marijuana and what is the Senate’s role in getting it on the market and generating tax revenue?
8) What fuels violent crimes in the territory, and what should the government, nonprofit organizations and residents do to help alleviate it?
9) Climate change is a growing threat to Virgin Islanders with a myriad of effects ranging from an increase in tropical storms to more severe health issues as a result of warming temperatures. What types of policies will you support to educate the community on the risks of climate change and increase the territory’s preparation and mitigation efforts?
10) Why do you want to be a Virgin Islands legislator, and why should voters choose you over other candidates?
After the election, we plan to follow up with another set of questions.