Voting begins 7 a.m. Saturday in the V.I. primary election to select major political party candidates for delegate to Congress, the governorship and the V.I. Legislature. Both the governorship and the territory’s congressional seat are open this year and numerous well-known Virgin Islanders have tossed their hats into the ring, raising the stakes and intensity of this year’s contest.
The Democratic Party has 10 times the number of registered voters as the Republican Party and Independent Citizens Movement – the two other significant parties in the territory – combined, making the winner of that primary a heavy favorite for election. However, V.I. voters have historically been ready to set aside partisan loyalty and elect ICM, independent and Republican candidates in greater numbers than voting registration would suggest.
Below you’ll find information on the candidates for high office and a list of all the primary election polling locations.
Vying to be the Democratic Party candidate for delegate to the U.S. Congress are Emmett Hansen, Stacey Plaskett and Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone.
Malone is the president of the 30th V.I. Legislature and in his sixth term of office. According to his campaign website, he was born Aug. 29, 1968, and raised on St. Thomas. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in political science from Hampton University in Hampton, Va., in 1991.
Before his 2002 election to the Legislature, Malone worked in management and auditing with the Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas, the Marriott Frenchman’s Reef Resort and the Michael A. Simmonds Company. Malone worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and later for Delegate Donna M. Christensen. Before his election to the Legislature he was also chairman of the St. Thomas/St. John Board of Elections and vice chairman of the V.I. Joint Boards of Elections. He has chaired five major committees and held every officer position in the Legislature.
Plaskett competed unsuccessfully against the popular longtime incumbent delegate in the 2012 primary. This year the seat is open since Christensen is running for governor. Plaskett’s family was from St. Croix and she grew up between New York and St. Croix, she said, adding that after getting her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., she worked in the district with then-Delegate Ron de Lugo, then with a D.C. lobbying firm before going on to law school at American University College of Law while working full time with three small children.
After law school, as a New York prosecutor, Plaskett was counsel to the House Ethics Committee, advising and investigating members of Congress. She also worked for United Healthgroup on government insurance, Medicaid and Medicare, she said. United Healthgroup is the nation’s largest health insurance company.
Hansen is currently the V.I. Democratic National Committeeman and has held several party offices, including two terms as a St. Croix senator. He is also a cofounder and past vice president of the St. Croix Young Democrats and served as press secretary to former Lt. Gov. Derek M Hodge, according to Hansen’s biography on his campaign website.
Hansen is a graduate of Dillard University and the Department of Defense Information School, with degrees in English, public affairs and photojournalism. He has taught English at John H. Woodson Jr. High School, has been a journalist at the Daily News, sports editor at the St. Croix Avis, an Orleans Parish deputy sheriff, a recruiter for the V.I. Police Department and is currently a business counselor at the award-winning Small Business Development Center in St. Croix, according to his campaign bio.
Democratic Party contenders for the gubernatorial race are:
Delegate Donna M. Christensen and Sen. Basil Ottley Jr.
Christensen was a medical doctor on St. Croix for 21 years before being elected to serve as delegate to Congress in 1996. She served nine consecutive terms until deciding to seek the governorship rather than another term in Congress this year.
Christensen earned a medical degree in 1970 from George Washington University School of Medicine in D.C. and became a board certified family physician in 1977.
The first woman to represent an offshore territory, she is assistant minority whip in the House of Representatives, serves on the Committee on Energy and Commerce and several subcommittees. She chairs the Congressional Black Caucus’ Health Braintrust, which advocates for minority health issues.
Ottley served as a V.I. senator from 2006 to 2008 and since then has worked as the principal V.I. official in the U.S. Interior Department’s Office of Insular Affairs.
He earned a master’s degree in public policy from Duke University and worked several years for a Fortune 500 company before returning to the territory in 2003 to become then-Sen. Louis Hill’s chief of staff. In 2004 Ottley first tried his hand at elective politics, challenging Christensen in the Democratic Party primary for delegate.
He won a seat in the 27th Legislature in 2006 then left that post in 2008 to join the U.S. Interior Department’s Office of Insular Affairs in 2008 as the V.I. Desk Officer.
Ottley was the primary policy analyst for the territory, preparing analyses to advise the secretary of the Interior, president and government agencies on V.I. issues.
Lt. Gov. Gregory Francis and Patrick Simeon Sprauve
Francis is the current lieutenant governor. A St. Croix native, he traveled to New York after high school and then joined the U.S. Army. According to Francis’ biography on the administration website, he spend 27 years in the military, serving in Germany, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
During his military service Lt. Gov. Francis received a number of awards and decorations, including the Army Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal W/ Silver Hourglass, Army Service Ribbon and the Overseas Service Ribbon. He retired from the U.S. Army/Army National Guard in 1999 with the rank of chief warrant officer IV.
Francis attended the University of the Virgin Islands and received a certificate from the paralegal program in 1984.
He was St. Croix administrator from 2001 to 2006 when he resigned and ran for lieutenant governor on Gov. John deJongh Jr.’s ticket.
The Democratic Party appointed Sprauve to serve out Ottley’s term in 2008 when Ottley left office to work for the Department of the Interior. He then won election a few months later in 2008 and won reelection in 2010, before being knocked out of the race in the 2012 Democratic Party primary. Sprauve, a St. Thomas native, served as fiscal administrator for the STD/HIV program in the V.I. Health Department and formerly served as executive director of the Legislature. He is a financial analyst by trade and a graduate of Hampton University in Virginia.
Gerard Luz James II and Winston Brathwaite
James, owner of James Memorial Funeral Home, served as lieutenant governor to Gov. Charles Turnbull from 1999 to 2006. More recently, he was elected president of the Fifth V.I. Constitutional Convention, which drafted a V.I. constitution that was rejected by the federal government for violating several provisions of the U.S. Constitution and federal law. According to his campaign biography, after being born and raised on St. Croix, he moved stateside for school.
After getting a bachelor’s in political science from Howard University, James joined the U.S. armed forces, serving from 1979 to 1981. He enrolled in the American Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral Service, received a diploma in 1982 and in 1984 opened his funeral home. He served two terms as a V.I. senator, starting in 1994.
Also a St. Croix native, Brathwaite graduated from the University of the Virgin Islands magna cum laude and became a Harry S. Truman Fellow in Washington, D.C., where he shadowed high-ranking policymakers for one year at the federal Departments of Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Agriculture and Commerce, according to his campaign website. He received a law degree from Howard University Law School in 2006. Since 2007, Brathwaite has been legal counsel for the Coastal Zone Management Division of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources.
Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg and Angel "Gito" Torres
Donastorg, a St. Thomas native, was a V.I. senator from 1995 through 2010 and ran for governor in 2010. His 2010 campaign floundered after Donastorg was charged with aggravated assault after a 19-year-old woman first claimed, then later recanted, that Donastorg had assaulted her and brandished a firearm. Donastorg was acquitted of all charges.
Donastorg attended college in two locations before receiving a bachelor’s in business management from the online University of Phoenix. He also holds a certificate in Non-Profit Financial Stewardship from the Harvard University School of Government in Boston.
Torres, a St. Croix native, served in the V.I. Fire Service from 1996 to 2014, rising through the ranks to become St. Croix fire chief. According to the campaign, Torres holds certificates in Agency Labor Management, Managing Conflict in the Organization, Legal Issues and Disasters, Using Performance Measures for Day-to-Day and Long-Term Management, Supervising for Effective Performance and various incident management certificates from the Department of Homeland Security – Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Moleto Smith Jr. and Hubert Frederick
Smith is a longtime government employee who has held numerous high-level positions in an array of V.I. government agencies and organizations. 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 before relocating 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.
Frederick, a St. Croix native, has worked in banking, insurance and financial management and has owned his own business. He has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from Florida A&M University and a master’s degree in planning and economic development from Georgia State University.
According to the campaign, he served as deputy commissioner of Health for St. Croix. His resume highlights expertise in business financing, commercial banking, real estate, taxes, insurance and management, all of which are activities that fall under the purview of the V.I. Office of the Lieutenant Governor.
He is owner of Island Insurance Agency, a newly constructed commercial business center, a laundromat and a dry cleaner in Gallows Bay/Mount Welcome, St. Croix. Frederick also has been cohost of St. Croix radio programs “Money Talk and More” and “Economic Roundtable.”
Marvin Pickering and Calford Martin
Pickering worked for Cruzan Rum on St. Croix for 30 years before retiring in 2012 as chief financial officer and senior vice president. Since retiring, Pickering started a tax and consulting firm called MLP LLC and has been a part-time professor of accounting at the University of the Virgin Islands.
A St. Thomas native, Pickering received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the College of the Virgin Islands, now UVI, according to the campaign. Pickering has served on the Board of Trustees of the Government Employees Retirement System since 2001.
Martin, also a St. Thomas native, is part owner and manager of The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy in Havensight. He has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from The Inter American University in Puerto Rico. As a hobby, Martin promotes quadrille dance as a member of the Mungo Niles Cultural Dancers. He is also a member of the V.I. Housing Finance Authority Board.
There were initially three candidates competing for Democratic Party candidacy for the sole at-large Senate seat, but two were disqualified for not being residents of St. John. Because Ronnie Jones is the sole Democratic Party candidate, there will be no Democratic Party primary for that seat.
Running for the seven St. Croix Senate seats in Democratic Party primary are:
– former Sen. Neville James;
– incumbent Sen. Kenneth Gittens;
– incumbent Sen. Diane Capehart;
– incumbent Sen. Sammuel Sanes;
– former Police Commissioner Novelle Francis;
– radio marketing director, businessman and storeowner Collin Hodge;
– former special assistant to the governor Malcolm McGregor;
– public school principal Kurt Vialet;
– George Moore;
– Carol Burke;
– Paul Arnold Jr.;
– Troy Mason.
Running for the seven St. Thomas/St. John district seats in the Democratic Party Primary are:
— Jean Forde;
– Julia Joseph Simon;
– Marvin Blyden;
– incumbent Sen. Clarence Payne;
– incumbent Sen. Myron Jackson;
– incumbent Sen. Donald Cole;
– incumbent Sen. Janette Millin Young;
– incumbent Sen. Clifford Graham;
– Sean Georges;
-Justin Harrigan Sr.
-and B. Gregory Miller.
The Republican Party and Independent Citizens Movement will not be holding primaries for the Senate or Congress. All three parties are electing some party officials in the primary.
Polls will be open Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and, because turnout is lower during primary elections, polling places have been consolidated in both districts.
St. Thomas-St. John District Primary Polling Locations
-Tutu Park Mall will also serve – Ivanna Eudora Kean, Joseph Gomez, Curriculum Center, E. Benjamin, Oliver Elementary and Bertha Boschulte polling precincts;
– Charlotte Amalie High School will also serve – CAHS Gym and Cafeteria, Oswald Harris Court, Winston Raymo Center polling precincts;
-Gladys Abraham Elementary School will also serve – Kirwan Terrace, Ulla F. Muller Elementary (A-L) polling precincts;
-Addelita Cancryn Jr. High will serve – Leonard Dober Elementary and Ulla F. Muller (M-Z) polling precincts;
-Joseph Sibilly Elementary will serve – Sibilly A and B polling precincts;
-Julius Sprauve Elementary will serve – St. John precinct.
St. Croix District Primary Polling Locations
– Alexander Henderson Elementary will serve – St. Gerard’s Hall and Claude O. Markoe Elementary polling precincts;
-St. Croix Educational Complex will serve – Evelyn Williams Elementary, Eulalie Rivera Elementary, Alfredo Andrews Elementary and Charles H. Emanuel Elementary precincts;
-Ricardo Richards Elementary will serve – Lew Muckle Elementary precinct;
-Juanita Gardine Elementary will also serve – John F. Kennedy Housing Project and Elena Christian Jr. High polling precincts;
– and Pearl B. Larsen Elementary will also serve Florence Williams precinct.
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