As interest in the 2014 V.I. gubernatorial election begins to rise and candidates begin to declare, only St. Thomas consultant and former deputy commissioner of Human Services Moleto Smith Jr. has formally declared he is running for the Democratic Party candidacy.
Smith, a longtime government employee who has held numerous high-level positions in an array of V.I. government agencies and organizations, is running on a platform of business promotion and government reform.
In his announcement, Smith spoke of increasing tourism and establishing a transhipment hub on St. Croix. He also emphasized helping small and medium-sized businesses "by providing comprehensive wrap-around support services," and "streamlining government operations."
Born in New York with extensive family roots on St. Thomas and the wider Caribbean, Smith is a graduate of Buena Park High School in Southern California, and the University of California at Irvine.
Smith worked in the private sector for about nine years on the mainland, then relocated to St. Thomas to be closer to family. From 1993 through 2010, he worked for the Department of Human Services, serving as acting deputy commissioner, deputy commissioner and interim Commissioner from 1994-2010.
After leaving public service in 2010, he opened Moleto A. Smith Jr., Business and Management Consulting, focusing on providing business and management expertise to public, private and not-for-profit organizations in resource development, business operations and related areas.
Independent candidate Soraya Diase Coffelt, a former Territorial Court Judge, announced Saturday, and because independents do not have to compete in a party primary, she is the first candidate to qualify for the general election ballot. But Smith announced his intention to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination way back on Jan. 10 at a press conference in the Windward Passage Hotel. He must first win the party primary if he is to become the party’s candidate.
Delegate Donna Christensen is widely rumored to be considering running for the Democratic Party nomination, but has not yet formally announced her intentions.