Oct. 1, 2003 – Supervisor of Elections John Abramson Jr. confirmed Tuesday evening that the St. Croix local of the American Federation of Teachers has launched a recall effort against Gov. Charles W. Turnbull.
"The recall section of the Virgin Islands Code has never been used, so we would be on a new course here. We've never done this before," Abramson said.
Tyrone Molyneaux, the union local president on St. Croix, said the organization began sending out around a thousand copies of its recall petition on Tuesday, and he hopes they will attract 20 signatures apiece. The union represents roughly 2,400 people territorywide.
Abramson said the union cited "incompetence" of the chief executive as the motive for the recall effort.
After campaigning on a pro-education platform, Turnbull has done little to pay teachers back salaries totaling an estimated $100 million over the last decade, Molyneaux said. The union leader also cited the loss of accreditation of what had been the territory's three accredited public high schools, and the governor's proposed reduction in the government workweek to 36 hours from 40 as reasons for the recall.
Turnbull spokesman Lee Vanterpool declined on Wednesday to comment on the recall effort.
The teachers union has a deadline of Nov. 15 to submit more than 17,000 valid signatures in support of a recall — that is, at least one-half of the number of persons who voted in the 2002 gubernatorial election plus one. If that deadline is met and the mandatory number of signatures is certified, the Senate would then have 60 days to decide whether to hold a recall election.
Failing that, Abramson said, the Joint Boards of Elections might be able to decide to hold the recall election. In order for the recall to succeed, he said, more than two-thirds of about 17,000 people — roughly the number who voted for Turnbull in November 2002 — would have to turn out for that election, and a majority of those voters would have to vote to recall the governor.
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