Native-Rights Advocate Bryan Biggest Winner in Constitutional Convention Delegate Vote

June 12, 2007 — Former Sen. Adelbert M. Bryan was St. Croix’s big winner in Tuesday’s election for delegates to the Fifth Constitutional Convention, an advocate of native Virgin Islander’s rights who beat the second-biggest vote getter, Arturo Watlington Jr. of St. Thomas, by more than 700 votes.
“The election today went very smoothly,” said Supervisor of Elections John Abramson. “Perhaps too smoothly, insofar as it is an indication of the low turnout.”
Abramson said he was concerned there would not be enough turnout next year to vote on the constitution itself. That vote must have at least 50-percent turnout, and 50 percent plus one of those voters must vote to pass the constitution, or it fails. As officials closed the Elections Office for the night, Abramson said they did not yet have firm turnout percentages, but that turnout “just cracked 20 percent.”
Bryan celebrated elsewhere Tuesday evening, but other victors came to the St. Croix Elections Office.
Claire Roker, who came in third on St. Croix, thanked her supporters and said she was disappointed at the low turnout. She said she would work to spread the word over the next year.
“I want to bring the public awareness along,” Roker said. “This is a very important document, and we have to really get serious in terms of looking at what sort of constitution we need. This it the fifth attempt, and we need to make it happen.” (For a detailed history of previous conventions, see "Constitutional Conventions: What's Gone Before.")
As far as the document’s contents, Roker said she was particularly concerned with education, municipal government and land use.
Winner Mary L. Moorhead was also on hand at the Elections Office.
“I have been one that’s been out there all my life, and I’m just happy to be chosen to serve,” Moorhead said. Like Roker, Moorhead emphasized the need to involve the public: “I definitely believe we must come back to the public at regular intervals over the year, to get feedback and to inform the public."
Her priorities include social studies.
“I think Virgin Islands history, culture and civics should be taught in K through 12 education,” Moorhead said. “We need to teach our history and culture so we can begin to build some national pride. I’m concerned, too, with major development and its effect on the small-property owner.”
The low turnout also concerned St. Croix Board of Elections Chairman Raymond Williams. He agreed on the importance of public outreach over the next year. Describing the process of drafting and ratifying a new constitution, Williams said there were many twists and turns between the creation of the document by the convention and its final up-and-down public vote.
“The trick to it is, whatever goes out of here is not necessarily what will come back to us to vote on,” Williams said. The U.S. Congress must approve the document, he explained, and they can change it any way they see fit.
On July 23, the Fifth Constitutional Convention will convene at 10 a.m. at the Charlotte Amalie Senate Building. The delegates will have until July 27, 2008, to draft a constitution for the territory. If two thirds of the delegates vote to adopt the document, it will go to the governor’s desk. He will have 60 days to add his comments and forward it to Congress, which has 60 days to look it over.
The V.I. delegate to Congress and others may testify, and Congress has the power to add or delete by amendment. If passed, the constitution will go to the president for signing, like any U.S. law. If the constitution makes it through the entire process, then it comes back to the territory, where it will be voted up or down. For more information, go to itsourfuture.vi.
The results below are not final. There are still absentee, provisional and walk-in ballots to be counted. The official results — expected to be very similar to those below — will be released shortly:
At-Large Delegates
St. Croix
Adelbert M. Bryan: 4,841 votes
Gerard Luz James II: 3,555 votes
St. Thomas-St. John
Arturo Watlington Jr.: 4,065 votes
Craig Barshinger (St. John): 2,732 votes
St. Croix District Delegates
Dr. Eugene A. Petersen: 2,856 votes
Michael Thurland: 2,323 votes
Claire L. Roker: 2,094 votes
Rena Brodhurst: 1,894 votes
Doug Capdeville: 1,822 votes
Arnold M. Golden: 1,794 votes
Richard Schrader, Jr.: 1,775 votes
Gerard Marlow Emanuel: 1,588 votes
Mary L. Moorhead: 1,548 votes
Kendall "Seigo" Petersen: 1,504 votes
Violet Anne Golden: 1,498 votes
Robert "Bobby" Schuster: 1,479 votes
Douglas Brady: 1,457 votes
St. Thomas-St. John District Delegates
Myron Jackson: 2,546 votes
Charles W. Turnbull: 2,482 votes
Alecia Wells (St. John): 2,186 votes
Lawrence "Larry" Sewer: 2,096 votes
Lois Hassell- Habtes: 2,082 votes
Clement "Cain" Magras: 2,015 votes
Elsie V. Thomas-Trotman (St. John): 1,890 votes
Stedmann Hodge Jr.: 1,747 votes
Thomas K. Moore: 1,695 votes
Francis Jackson: 1,680 votes
Mario Francis: 1,500 votes
Wilma Marsh Monsanto: 1, 499 votes
Lisa Williams: 1, 378 votes
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