The Source asked every senatorial candidate ten questions, to fairly give every candidate an opportunity to tell our readers about themselves and where they stand on some of the most pressing issues of the day. You can see all the candidates’ responses and more election news here.
Devin Carrington is running as an independent to represent St. Croix. He has worked in V.I. government in various capacities since 1977, serving most recently as commissioner of Licensing and Consumer Affairs from 2015 to 2019. He has been a social worker, a public school teacher, a judicial clerk for the Superior Court and served on the Casino Control Commission and the Water and Power Authority board. He has served as legal counsel for multiple V.I. entities. Carrington has a bachelor’s in social sciences from the University of the Virgin Islands and a law degree from Nova Southeastern University.
Here are the responses from Carrington:
What will be your top priority as a legislator and why?
Carrington: My top priority as a legislator would be to advocate for the enactment of a Comprehensive Land and Water Use Plan as required by the Virgin Islands Code. I think that it is imperative that the Virgin Islands, with its limited land resources and precious water resources, put plans in place for their use with the ultimate goal of utilizing and protecting and preserving them for future generations of Virgin Islanders.
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?
Carrington: While the current pandemic has presented a serious situation resulting in government revenue shortfalls, it is my thought that government can make available revenue by being more fiscally prudent. This will not necessarily equate to cuts in government services. I feel that the virus is a dark cloud that has presented us a silver lining. As an example, a substantial percentage of government workers are currently performing their work tasks from home. This means that government offices are not occupied and that electrical and utility bills attendant to that occupation would necessarily decrease. Therefore, this government has the opportunity to reassess the practice of spending millions of dollars on leases of private buildings used to house government offices. I will propose a feasibility study including a cost-benefit analysis be performed to determine the amount of money that can be saved in such an endeavor. Where practical, and without adverse consequence to the delivery of government service, we should implement a plan to make work from home a component of government service. Money saved can be directed to other governmental uses. My point is that the government, especially in this period, but more so as a general practice, must be more fiscally prudent in how it spends our revenues.
How will you help make government more transparent?
Carrington: Transparency in government is a function of the honesty of those working in government. I view government service as just that. Service. When one truly serves, it means that they are expected to be accountable to those they serve. Accountability requires transparency. Elected officials especially should come into government service expecting to provide the degree of information needed to keep their constituents fully cognizant of the issues that affect them. I intend to do so.
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?
Carrington: I shall not vote for any legislation that is an unfunded mandate.
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, the Maritime Academy Board, the Commission on Caribbean Cooperation, and the 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?
Carrington: Board and Commissions play an integral part in the operation of this government as well as governments in other jurisdictions. The delegation of legislative power to boards and commissions is necessary as these bodies deal with issues and develop rules and regulations in subject areas that legislators don’t necessarily have expertise in. Thus, in some instances, these bodies are necessary and where and when deemed necessary, I will consider the creation of such bodies. However, having twice served as commissioner as well as member and/or legal counsel on more than a few governmental and boards, I realize that the effective operation of governmental boards and commissions are often handicapped by the lack of an adequate number of members due to the untimely appointment of qualified individuals by the Executive Branch. This practice, which has transcended many administrations, is the greatest impediment to the effective operation of boards and commissions in the Government of the Virgin Islands. This practice must cease.
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?
Carrington: The issue confronting the GERS is not one that has developed overnight. In fact, the situation we currently face has been looming for years. Therefore, it cannot and should not be expected to be solved overnight or with one senator’s proposal. What I guarantee is that as a legislator, I will be open to working with any and all senators or the executive branch that present reasonable and practical plans that begin to make a dent in the unfunded mandate we now face. While I do not portend to have a magic bullet to deal with the issue, I feel that money saved through greater governmental fiscal accountability is one way to contribute to the reduction in this unfunded mandate.
Where do you stand on medicinal marijuana and what is the Senate’s role in getting it on the market and generating tax revenue?
Carrington: I am in full support of the implementation of the existing medical marijuana laws and can also support the implementation of a well thought out law for the legalization of recreational usage of marijuana for visitors and residents alike. The legislature’s role is simply that; a legislative function, to pass well thought out laws that leaves the detailed implementation and administration of the law to the experts appointed to the appropriate board and or commission delegated the authority to do so.
What fuels violent crime in the territory and what should the government, nonprofit organizations and residents do to help alleviate it?
Carrington: In my humble opinion, violent crime is an issue that results from several components. As such it must be attacked on all fronts. First and foremost, the families of the Virgin Islands have an obligation to teach children ideals that discourage the use violence to settle disputes. Dispute resolution should be taught in schools as there is currently a law on the books requiring this. Teachings regarding right and wrong and the sanctity of each and every life is an imperative. The children are the fruits of their parent’s tree and what that fruit turns out to be is a function of the job parents do in raising the child. Parents must do better. Secondly, as it takes a village to raise a child, we as a society must make resources and opportunities available to our young that teach them righteous mores as well as provide them with constructive ways of spending their time. The Boys Club, Boy Scouts, the Youth Commission, the Police Athletic League, music, arts and sports programs and other such organizations and endeavors that were in existence in these islands in the past were instrumental in steering myself and my contemporaries in the right direction. These programs taught skills, hard work and discipline all essential to the development of good character and productive law abiding citizens. Government, businesses and religious organizations must be a part of this effort. We must invest in the young by making such programs available to them. Moreover, the representatives of the Government of the Virgin Islands must convene continuing discussions with representatives of the federal government, specifically the US Customs and Border Protection regarding the prevalence of guns imported into the Virgin Islands. Entry of all persons and goods through our airports and seaports is regulated by this agency and we have the right and are in fact obligated to procure any and all information on the efforts and plans of CBP regarding the stemming the importation of illegal firearms into the Virgin Islands. The public, through our government representatives should be given regular updates respecting this issue. In the absence of these steps, it is OUR children who will continue to die.
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 to increase the territory’s preparation and mitigation efforts?
Carrington: The implementation of a Comprehensive Land and Water Use plan as an environmental device is only one of the steps we need to take to protect and preserve or environmental for now and generations to come. I propose we implement an effort to plant more trees in the Virgin Islands to enhance our environment as well as protect and preserve the existing trees we have. This is being done worldwide as part of the Billion Tree campaign. Trees are instrumental in capturing carbon which helps to stave off global warming. Moreover, part of my platform entails the development of water management infrastructure to preserve water for agricultural and other usage. Education regarding environmental issues must begin with our young in schools. This endeavor will serve to imbue our younger Virgin Islanders with the information needed for them to value our natural resources and preserve our islands for generations to come.
Why do you want to be a Virgin Islands legislator and why should voters choose you over other candidates?
Carrington: My desire to become a legislator is borne of my obligation as a Native Virgin Islander to give back to the community that has made me what I am. I was taught by my parents the adage “to those much is given, much is expected.” I have been fortunate to be successful here at home and I want to be able to make these islands a place where success can come to more Virgin Islanders. Voters should choose me and other like-minded, qualified and dedicated candidates. I have the education, experience and conviction to contribute ideas and proposals to make these islands a better place for all Virgin Islanders whether here by birth or by choice, as well as for generations of Virgin Islanders to come.