Delegate to Congress Donna Christian Christensen has been a strong advocate for an independent Chief Financial Officer in order to bring fiscal responsibility to the community. She has been lauded nationally for her courage and criticized locally by professional politicians inside and outside her party.
Many of our local politicians traveled to Washington at local taxpayer expense to criticize the bill and claimed it was unnecessary. With this being an election year, candidates in all parties have made praise or criticism for the bill a part of their platform, but no one has polled the voters for their viewpoint
I have been doing political polls in the territory since 1982. I completed a survey of members of the Democratic Party on both islands to get their viewpoints. I conducted a poll of 300 registered Democrats on St. Croix and 216 on St. Thomas between Aug. 6 and Sept. 2.
The results of the poll are clear-cut and couldn't be more lopsided On St. Thomas 78 percent of the registered Democrats sampled favored the Chief Financial Officer while on St. Croix it was 88 percent in favor of a Chief Financial Officer for the territory. The margin of error for the St Thomas sample is 5% and 4% for the slightly larger St. Croix sample.
Christensen is one of the only candidates strongly in favor of the CFO bill with many of the senatorial candidates from St. Croix either paying lip service to the bill or mildly supporting it. Neville James, Democratic senatorial candidate from St Croix openly criticized the CFO bill as have many of the Democratic senators from St. Thomas. This has been particularly true during the August to September election season.
Perhaps the strongest condemnation for the bill has come from the governor and his close associates who currently control almost the entire budget of the Virgin Islands with very little oversight. A CFO bill would require them to relinquish power in making fiscal choices when insufficient money is available to cover all expenses.
Despite heavy advertising against the bill by St. Thomas Democratic Party powers, the rank and file remain independent in their point of view and were willing to discuss their views with the survey personnel. While advertising suggests that this is a colonial position and would cost money, the voters are concerned that the governor and his cronies are not paying the GERS to secure workers retirement or hiring an ample number of qualified teachers and policemen.
The general feeling is that the resources we have are being wasted on do-nothing contracts that would be stopped by a CFO and the resources would be used to fund the retirement system, police and retroactive pay. By far the biggest reason offered for supporting the CFO is that prospective voters trust Delegate Christiansen more than the governor and his inner circle.
The polling method used was the sidewalk intercept that is more valid when people want to remain totally anonymous and are fearful that if their personal viewpoint got out there would be negative consequences. In addition to the question about the CFO bill, the survey asked about the preference for various candidates. Releasing the primary results would not serve any useful purpose because of the low voter turnout in the primary and the difficulty of projecting who has the most loyal followers.
If the people who want a CFO stay home, the results might not be as powerful an endorsement of Delegate Christensen's courage as the poll currently suggests.
Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publisher's note : Like the St. Croix Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice… click here.