I have heard many residents complaining that the candidates, both incumbents and challengers, have failed to address some fundamental issues. They all, with few exceptions, repeated each other's issues. They remained in the box. This perception is true for the senatorial candidates, the congressional candidates and the gubernatorial candidates.
Very little has been said about the infrastructure: water distribution, consistent and reliable electricity, road maintenance and enhancement, or inter-island transportation. Other omissions from the candidates' agendas are: Virgin Islands-federal relations, the status question and a constitution for the territory. Maybe these issues are too heavy for these candidates to handle; maybe they have no conviction on the subjects.
Another observation made and discussed was the fact that the challengers failed to really challenge individual incumbents' records and explain to the electorate why they would be the better choice. Were they playing safe or trying to appear polite? An exception to this pattern was Wilma Marsh Monsanto, candidate for the at-large seat, the candidates for delegate to Congress and some gubernatorial candidates. Even in the absence of numbered seats I share the view that the challengers could have done a better job explaining to the electorate why they would be better representatives than the incumbents.
Another prevalent perception is that ideas and principles are not very important to the candidates and/ or the electorate as a whole. Popularity, or name recognition, seems to be the accepted strategy for the candidates. This is evidenced by the number, sizes and quality of posters that have proliferated on the roadways of our islands. As we evaluate the campaign strategy of the candidates it indicated the kind of representatives they would be when elected. Many of them reveal how self-centered, arrogant and conceited they are. Narcissism is very much present in the campaign style and methods of these candidates. So many of them claim to be leaders or offer themselves to be leaders rather than representatives of the people.
What is our alternative to ensure better representation? The Citizens Coalition for Better Government (CCBG) has been advocating that citizens identify and select candidates that reflect their values, political priorities and share their aspirations. Once we have identified the prospective candidates and they are selected we need to promote their candidacy. Citizens need to support in all forms their selected candidates. We need to be proactive rather than passively wait for candidates we dont know to thrust their candidacy on us. Democracy suffers when citizens fail to exercise their responsibilities to be vigilant. Democracy requires vigilance by the governed to ensure that their representatives in government — the public servants — fulfill their duties well. The CCBG encourage all residents to get involved in the affairs of their community. CCBG reminds the taxpayers that they are the bosses of the public servants and should require proper attention and good service from all public servants — elected and appointed.
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CITIZENS MUST BE VIGILANT, ENSURE REPRESENTATION
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