Sam Topp, Gov. Kenneth Mapp’s fourth communication director since taking office, resigned last week, Government House has confirmed.
Topp, who was a well known V.I. radio personality for many year before joining Mapp’s team, could not be reached for comment.
Topp took over the post in March, after Mapp ousted Cherie Munchez from the spot. Topp was deputy director of communications for the administration at the time.
Munchez took the position in May 2016 and served a little more than nine months. She replaced Nicole Bollentini, who served about four months as director of communications and is still with Government House, directing social media. Bollentini replaced Kimberly Jones, who was Mapp’s initial director of communications. Mapp appointed Jones to be deputy commissioner of the Health Department.
The Mapp administration has seen a number of top officials replaced to date.
In August, Public Works Commissioner Gustav James resigned. Gov. Kenneth Mapp named Nelson Petty Jr. to replace him.
In February, Mapp replaced Commissioner of Human Services Anita Roberts after she faced criticism for abruptly moving some residents of St. Thomas’s Sea View Nursing Home without coordinating with families and other agencies. Mapp appointed Felicia Blyden, a career Human Services employee, in her place.
Also in February, Mapp ousted Property and Procurement Commissioner Randolph Bennett, without explanation, replacing him with Lloyd Bough Jr., who has served as chief of procurement contracts at the department since 2007.
In October 2016, Mapp’s chief of staff, Randy Knight, abruptly resigned with no public explanation.
Attorney General Claude Walker is the fourth person to serve as attorney general since January 2015 when Mapp took office. Walker took office in August 2015.
Mapp ousted longtime Bureau of Information Technology Director Reuben Molloy in August 2016, temporarily replacing him with Jesus Caban, then appointing Angelo Riddick to the post.
The territory has also seen the heads of the V.I. Water and Power Authority and the V.I. Port Authority, neither of which us under the governor’s direct authority, ousted by board members aligned with Mapp.
And the head of the West Indian Co. Ltd. has been replaced. After a March 2017 board vote, the WICO board of directors decided not to renew Joseph Boshulte’s contract as president, which expired April 30. Former Sen. Clifford Graham took his place.
In December 2016, three Mapp cabinet members and a cousin of Mapp’s voted to oust VIPA Executive Director Carlton “Ital” Dowe, putting the governor’s brother, David Mapp, in the position until a new director is hired by the board. In June of this year, the VIPA board voted to install David Mapp on a permanent basis.
In January of 2016, three Mapp cabinet members and a member of Mapp’s transition team voted to oust WAPA Executive Director Hugo Hodge Jr.
In November 2015, Mapp fired Special Assistant Attorney General Laverne Mills-Williams, citing only her “association” with her own attorney, St. Croix attorney Lee Rohn. Rohn was representing Mills-Williams in a whistleblower action concerning Mills-Williams being relieved of her duties after giving out information in response to V.I. Open Records Act requests regarding Mapp’s use of Government House funds at restaurants and bars. Rohn also was an attorney in a lawsuit regarding Mapp’s use of WICO funds to rent a villa on St. Thomas.
In May 2015, Mapp ousted V.I. Economic Development Authority Chief Executive Officer Percival Clouden, who was placed in the position by Mapp’s predecessor, Gov. John deJongh Jr. He replaced Clouden with Wayne Biggs, who served previously as head of the Division of Licensing and Consumer Affairs under deJongh. In February of 2015, Mapp replaced Jennifer Nugent-Hill, the EDA’s assistant chief executive officer. Those positions serve at the pleasure of the governor and have historically often changed hands with a new governor’s arrival.