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Charlotte Amalie
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Political Analysis: Of Primary Focus

Of Primary Focus: Your Vote Shapes the Future
Why is the primary election so important? Why can't we just go to the polls once in November and be done with it?
On Sept. 11, voters will decide which candidates advance to the general election for the territory's 15 seats in the 26th Legislature, one seat in the House of Representatives, seats in the Board of Education, the district Boards of Elections, and offices within the Democratic Party, the Republican Party and the Independent Citizens Movement (ICM).
There are an estimated 24,625 registered voters across St. Croix, 23,523 registered voters on St. Thomas, and 1,757 registered voters on St. John. It is critical for these voters to cast ballots in the primary so that the strongest candidates build upon their momentum in the general election.
The bright lights, delicious food, parties and big fun of the campaigns come with the terrain, but voters must raise up the single proposition: If a program to address the nursing shortage is instituted, the territory advances. If there are investments and a plan to put St. Croix back to work, the territory advances. If there is a plan to work with Police Commissioner Elton Lewis to mitigate crime and despair, the territory advances. If there is a plan to help people build strong, healthy families; reduce energy costs; secure quality healthcare; and ensure clean air and water, the territory advances. If there are common-sense investments to harness agriculture by mobilizing the productivity of farmers, the territory advances.
The primary focus? Full participation in a democratic government, and the capacity to survive, endure, and navigate this vessel to safety on Sept. 11 and beyond. The right to vote is like any other right; it's valuable only if it is used.
The primary is not just the election before the election. It is a place where voters shape the future.
Primary Races to Watch
The main issue between Delegate Donna M. Christensen, a Democrat, and Democratic contender Basil Ottley, is Christensen's CFO Bill, to create a federally mandated V. I. financial overseer. The Democratic Party of the Virgin Islands is galvanized against this bill, while Christensen maintains (and a recent V.I. Source poll would seem to confirm) that a majority of V.I. voters support fiscal responsibility and therefore that bill.
The five current St. Croix Democratic senators face a crowded field of contenders. Defending their seats are Douglas Canton Jr., Emmett Hansen II, David Jones, Luther Renee and Ronald Russell. They face eight challengers: John A. Barnes, Gregory A. Bennerson, Pedro "Pete" Encarnacion, G. Luz A. James, Neville James, Raymond T. James, Juan Figueroa-Serville and Michael Thurland.
The race for the at-large Senate seat, which has been held for the last seven terms by ICM member Almando "Rocky" Liburd, requires him to defend his position against Democrats Craig Barshinger, William Belardo, Harry A. Daniel and Lorelei C. Monsanto.
Voters cannot stand idly by. Citizens are challenged to vote for economic development, investment, education, healthcare, credible plans to attract and retain nurses and teachers, tangible plans for land and water use, and fiscal discipline.
Taking the time to question the candidates, understand the issues, internalize the platforms and weigh the pros and cons as they affect children and families places voters in the driver's seat, enables voters to stay civically engaged, and fosters informed decisions.
Teri Helenese DeAbreu, former director of the Office of the Governor in Washington, D.C., and director of public affairs in the Legislature, is the election 2004 political analyst for the V.I. Source.
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