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Charlotte Amalie
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Candidates Address Schools, Congestion, Money

Oct. 20, 2004 –– St. John issues were at the forefront of Wednesday's Candidates Night held at the Westin Resort and Villas. It was sponsored by the St. John Community Foundation.
"We need to know our vote counts," Community Foundation president Lonnie Willis said, after the 10 candidates who showed up for the forum made their final remarks.
Six incumbents attended. They were Sens. Lorraine Berry, Roosevelt David, Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, Carlton Dowe, Louis Hill, and Almando "Rocky" Liburd.
Challengers included Craig Barshinger, Karl Caesar, Wilma Marsh Monsanto and Alex Randall.
Incumbents who did not attend included Sens. Shawn-Michael Malone and Celestino A. White Sr. The challengers who did not make the trip to St. John were former Sen. Donald "Ducks" Cole, Liston Davis, former Sen. Stephen "Smokey" Frett, Nicholas Friday, Kevin Jennings and Alvin Williams.
Hill addressed St. John residents' often-expressed lament that they don't have any representation except for the senator-at-large. That person must live in St. John but is elected by voters from across the territory.
Hill said he represents both St. Thomas and St. John.
"Because we live in St. Thomas doesn't mean we don't represent St. John," he said.
Randall told the 75 or so people who attended that, as a Water Island resident, he understands how St. John doesn't feel it gets its fair share.
"I know exactly what it's like to be ignored by the government," he said.
The Community Foundation is working on a draft proposal for an island council, an idea that caused Monsanto to comment that it amounted to secession from the territory.
"There's a whole lot of power the council is seeking," she said.
Dowe called for inclusion of everyone if such an idea were to see the light of day.
In response to a question on what a senator could do to ensure that St. John knows what it contributes to the government coffers and what is expended on St. John, Berry said that at a Senate Committee of the Whole meeting on St. John several years ago, budget director Ira Mills said that information would be soon available.
She said she was recently told that the government views St. Thomas and St. John as one district, so the information would not be forthcoming.
On the same issue, David said it would take only a line item in the budget to provide the necessary funds to change the accounting procedures.
"It takes a collaborative effort. There has to be a mandate by the Senate," he said.
On a question about building an educational complex in a location other than Cruz Bay, with a vocational school to come later, Donastorg said that a funding source would have to be identified.
Barshinger, who is running against Liburd for the senator-at-large seat, pointed out that St. John needs at least 10 acres to allow for growth of the school system. He said that a 100-year lease for land within V.I. National Park appears to be the way to proceed.
"But we have not negotiated properly with the park," he said, referring to the fact that the issue of a land swap, and now a lease, with the park for land for a school has been on the burner for years.
Julius E. Sprauve School sits in the heart of noisy and congested Cruz Bay, which many feel makes learning difficult for the students.
On the issue of parking, Liburd noted that all the funding is in place to build a 100-space parking garage and vendor's plaza in the public parking lot across from the Creek. He said that a legal dispute with a tenant is holding up the project, but as soon as that is resolved, it will move forward.
Caesar suggested that St. John use smaller cars to help facilitate the traffic flow.
Residents who attended had several comments after the forum concluded. Victor Johannson said that he was pleased the issue of St. John's schools came up.
"It's been long neglected," he said.
However, former Sen. Robert O'Connor Jr. said he didn't think the one-and-a-half minutes allotted to the candidates to answer questions was sufficient. And he said he thought the answers were too vague.
"The people didn't address the issues," he said.

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