Jan. 7, 2003 – Echoing promises made during his campaign, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull said Tuesday night at St. John's inaugural ball that he will give the St. John administrator powers similar to those of a municipal mayor.
"The time has come when we need local government," he said to an audience of several hundred people gathered at the Westin Resort.
He said that the St. John administrator, currently his appointee Julien Harley, knows more about what St. John needs than the governor does. "I don't challenge Harley too much," he quipped.
Turnbull also pledged that he and Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards will earn their keep.
In welcoming remarks, Harley reflected on the day's events. St. John's inaugural festivities began with a service at St. Ursula's Anglican Church, where two youth groups performed. After seeing the high caliber of the young men who participated in the program, the administrator said, he is no longer worried that his daughter won't find a husband on St. John.
"I saw a lot of young guys who had their heads on straight," Harley said.
Turnbull and Richards led the way to the buffet line, where about 250 people who had paid $75 each dined on dishes including grilled chicken, seared mahi mahi, crab and mango salad, and an array of desserts that included Oreo cookie cake.
It was a night to see and be seen for many St. John and St. Thomas residents who attended the ball.
St. John Wesselhoft, dressed to the nines in red, was out to celebrate her birthday. "I just felt like coming out and doing something different," she said.
Licensing and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Andrew Rutnik, the only member of Turnbull's cabinet from St. John, was on hand with his wife, Janet. He said he has supported Turnbull since the then-history professor announced his candidacy on St. John on July 4, 1998, and will continue to do so. The governor is "a man that is very humble," Rutnik said. "It's not money that brings him to the position."
Rutnik apparently convinced a number of other people to attend the ball. When asked what brought them out, several said it was because of him. One Rutnik recruit, Karen Warhol, a St. Thomas resident who works at John Foster Real Estate on St. Thomas, ticked off a list of movers and shakers at her table. "We're supporting Andy and the St. John inaugural," she said.
Rick Jay, a part-time St. John resident, also credited Rutnik with his attendance at the event. "I'm learning about the islands," he said, noting this was his first inaugural event.
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