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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, July 13, 2024


The recently formed Public Safety Coalition launched its petition drive to recall Gov. Charles W. Turnbull Thursday in Christiansted and collected about 300 signatures in an hour.
The coalition — consisting of police, corrections officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians — must collect the signatures of at least 16,750 registered voters in 50 days in order to force a special election to replace Turnbull, according to territorial supervisor of elections John Abramson Jr.
That number represents half of the votes cast in the 1998 gubernatorial election.
Turnbull won that election by a landslide over incumbent Gov. Roy Schneider. But two years later, the membership of the Public Safety Coalition has grown disenchanted with Turnbull because of overdue pay raises and poor working conditions.
While collecting signatures in Christiansted's Sunday Market Square Thursday for the recall effort, Wingrove Creighton, president of the St. Croix Emergency Medical Technicians Association, said Turnbull has "demonstrated his incompetence to run the government."
"It’s not about pay raises anymore," Creighton said. "It's about management and mismanagement. If we continue this way for another two years, it will be devastating for the Virgin Islands."
Creighton and Naomi Joseph, president of the St. Croix Police Benevolent Association, said they expect "easily" to collect at least twice the amount of signatures needed for a recall.
Abramson said the process could take several months: the 50 days the coalition has to collect signatures, about two weeks for his office to determine whether each signee is a registered voter, and another 30 to 60 days to determine whether a special election will need to be held and, if so, when.
Of the 33,499 total votes cast in the gubernatorial election in 1998, Turnbull walked away with 19,795. He garnered 11,114 votes on St. Croix compared to Schneider’s 5,236. On St. Thomas the race was close, with Turnbull collecting 8,681 to Schneider’s 8,440.
Despite Turnbull’s convincing victory on St. Croix, the Public Safety Coalition members lay the blame for the conditions they are protesting squarely on the governor’s shoulders.
"The governor is the head honcho in charge," Joseph said. "We are the same as we were five years ago."
Creighton, however, reiterated that his main concern now isn’t money. "Whether we get a raise is not the issue," he said. Turnbull, he said, "has neglected to address several issues in each department, issues that could threaten people’s lives."
The coalition members planned to resume collecting signatures Friday in Christiansted and to move the effort on Saturday to the Sunny Isle Shopping Center.

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