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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, May 18, 2024


The importance of offering Virgin Islands voters a national party choice dominated discussion as members of the St. Thomas-St. John branch of the V.I. Republican Party met recently to discuss strategy for the coming elections.
At the meeting, it was noted that several prominent, longtime Democrats have changed their party affiliation to Republican because of the ongoing disputes within the V.I. Democratic Party and their desire to affiliate with a nationally recognized political party "that is responsive to the people."
Plans were laid to open a headquarters in Sugar Estate "to show that the Republican Party is an active organization," member Vincent "Beef" Clendinen said. The office is expected to be open by Wednesday, and plans call for holding weekly party meetings there on Thursdays at 5:30 p.m., "making it easy for those employed in town to stop by on their way home," he said.
The office will be in Suite 2F of the Professional Building above the Drug Farm Pharmacy in Sugar Estate. A telephone has not yet been installed, Clendinen said.
At the strategy meeting on Aug. 10, members discussed and affirmed the party's locally developed Virgin Island Republican Beliefs, which state that:
– "The strength of our islands lies with the individual, and that each person's dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored";
– there should be "equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, creed, sex, age or disability;
– "free enterprise and encouraging individual initiative have brought this nation opportunity, economic growth and prosperity;
– "government must practice fiscal responsibility and allow individuals to keep more of the money they earn;
– "the proper role of government is to provide for the people only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations, and that the best government is that which governs least;
– "the most effective, responsible responsive government is closest to the people;
– "all Virgin Islanders must retain the principles that have made us strong while developing new and innovative ideas to meet the challenges of changing times;
– "all Virgin Islanders value and should preserve our national strength and pride while working to extend peace, freedom and human rights throughout the world,"and
– "the Republican Party is the best vehicle for translating these ideas into positive and successful principles of government."
St. Thomas-St. John Republican candidates for election to public office this fall are Brian Dooley and Vinnie Mohanani for the Senate; Thomas Boatwright and Clendinen for the Board of Education; and George Blackhall (president of the party's St. Thomas-St. John branch), Lawrence Boschulte and Celia Clendinen-Tonge for the Board of Elections.
It was noted that many Virgin Islanders have become disenchanted with the actions of Democrats both in Government House and within the local party leadership. Throughout the meeting, members repeatedly cited their local slogan, "You have a choice," a reference to the fact there are two national political parties active in the Virgin Islands.
The was agreement on the need for St. John Republicans to get together and organize to provide a local focus for that island, while St. Thomas Republicans address needs and concerns in their community.
In the past, most agreed, many Virgin Islanders registered as Democrats because doing so was necessary to get and keep government jobs. Now, however, more than 40 percent of government office seekers are running as independents, and another 13 percent are running under the banner of the Independent Citizens Movement. Several GOP members expressed the view that many of these "no-party" and ICM candidates could be national Democrats who do not want to be identified with the local Democratic Party.
All non-party members are invited to join the local Republican Party with its national affiliation, they said.

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