US Virgin Islands Democratic primaries end in surprise

by | Sep 13, 2018 | United States Virgin Islands | Comments

On August 4, the Democratic primary elections in the US Virgin Islands came to a close. A total of just under 10,000 islanders (of over 32,000 registered voters) cast their votes in 30 precincts for positions including governor/lieutenant governor, legislature positions, and the St. Croix board of education. Officials and polling volunteers were less than thrilled with the voter turnout, as only about 3,500 of the total 9,896 voters came to the polls (the remaining ballots were cast early or as absentees), and only 30.61% of registered voters actually cast their votes.

While there was some surprise that sitting governor Kenneth Mapp did not do well in the primaries, the results of the elections were largely as expected. Democratic candidate and former labor commissioner Albert Bryan took the majority of the votes for governor with a total of 3,331 votes, or about 39% of the ballots cast. Allison “Allie” Petrus came in close behind Bryan with 2,589 votes, or 34%, and was followed by Angel E. Dawson Jr who earned 2,265 votes (about 27%).

Despite the low turnout, when elections winner Albert Bryan heard the news, he was “elated”, according to an interview with the St. John Source. When prompted about Kenneth Mapp’s lack of success, Bryan stated that it is “hard to unseat an incumbent and hard to unseat a seasoned politician, but it is not hard to unseat the untruth.” Continuing, he stated that that people of the Virgin Islands are “not in the mood to be fooled twice.”

Bryan and his running mate Tregenza Roach ran their campaign on a platform of creating a more stable government, economy, and political status for the territory. According to the pair’s campaign website, if they were to win the general election on November 6, their course of action would begin by restoring islanders trust in their government. They plan to address the government’s structural fiscal deficit and restructure the government to run more efficiently. The duo also states that they want to recruit major industries to the islands to create investment opportunities and, in turn, benefit the local economy. They would also like to improve early and secondary education programs to create a more educated community. Finally, Bryan and Roach intend to develop a plan to either: a) help the territory become more engaged and integrated into the United States or b) pursue independence from the US altogether. While their specific course of action on this matter is unclear, Bryan and Roach believe that “the inability to have a direct voice, no matter how small, on the decisions of [their] federal government is unacceptable.”

The Virgin Islands Daily News congratulated the gubernatorial candidates on a clean race, stating that the only negativity that took place during campaigning came from the current governor Mapp. This same positive and uplifting attitude that pervaded the primary campaigns promises to remain a part of the Democratic parties race going into the general election. Despite being disappointed by their loss, the gubernatorial/vice gubernatorial pair of Allie Petrus and Sammuel Sanes promised to fully back Bryan and Roach in the November election. Sanes told The St John Source that he “believe[s] this is the time for all three candidates to come together as one and really show the people of the Virgin Islands that the Democratic Party is all about serving them.”

Third place runners up Angel Dawson and running mate Marise James expressed a similar sentiment, as did senate candidate Donna Frett Gregory, who earned the most number of votes in the St. Thomas precincts.

As for the other positions that had elections this month, there were seven Senate positions open for the St. Thomas/St. John senate, as well as seven positions for the St. Croix senate. The results for these positions are as follows.

For the St. Thomas/St. John seats, Donna Frett Gregory took the majority of the votes, winning 12.57% of the votes, followed by Marvin A. Blyden with 10.64%; Athneil Thomas with 9.65%; Myron D. Jackson with 9.17%; Stedmann HOdge Jr. with 8.76%; Carla Joseph at 7.64% and finally, Jean A. Forde with 7.03% of the votes.

In St. Croix, the Senate candidates earned the following amount of votes were: Alicia Barnes with 12.51% of the votes, followed by Allison DeGazon with 11.07%; Kurt Vialet with 8.67%; Novelle E Francis, Jr. with 8.66%; Javan James with 7.81%; Kenneth “Kenny” Gittens with 7.38 percent; and Oakland Benta with 6.93%.

Additionally, the two Democratic candidates that will be running for seats on the St. Croix Board of Education are Terrence T. Joseph and Winona A. Hendricks.

The schedule for the remainder of the campaigns leading up to the general elections are available at vivote.gov.

If necessary, run-off elections will take place on November 20. A run-off election will only take place in the event that no candidate wins the majority vote.