Nov. 18, 2003 – The effort initiated by the St. Croix Federation of Teachers to recall Gov. Charles W. Turnbull fell far short of the mark. As of the deadline Saturday, the group had 614 signatures, or 2.8 percent of the 17,518 needed to force the governor from office.
Tyrone Molyneaux, federation president, announced the recall campaign on Sept. 30, sending out around a thousand copies of the recall petition in the hope that he could get 20 signatures on each. As recently as Nov. 7, he was expressing hope that the effort would succeed. (See "Recall promoters remain confident".)
The AFT has about 2,400 members territorywide. However, the St. Thomas local did not endorse the recall effort. The United Industrial Workers of the Seafarers International Union did join the recall movement the first week in October.
Signatures collected totaled 425 in the St. Croix district and 189 in the St. Thomas-St. John district. John Abramson Jr., elections supervisor, said on Tuesday that the figures are unofficial and are being verified. They have to be checked to make certain they are all registered voters, he said.
In any event, the campaign is ended.
Molyneaux was philosophical on Tuesday. "We just wanted the public to know that it's okay to voice concerns, stand up for what you believe," he said. "We know our message did get through to the senators on a number of issues we raised pertaining to the governor's proposed budget. They didn't just rubber-stamp his proposals."
Molyneaux said he doesn't think the effort failed for lack of enough recruiting. "I think, to some extent, it's the laid-back attitude that things are just going to happen; you don't have to do anything," he said. "But clearly it's a message to the administration that people are dissatisfied with the economy, the schools. The issues we raised still exist."
The requirement of 17,518 valid signatures of registered voters in support of the recall is based on one-half of the number of persons who voted in the 2002 gubernatorial election plus one. If at least that many signatures had been collected by the Nov. 15 deadline and certified, the Senate would then have had 60 days to decide whether to hold a recall election.
For the recall to succeed in such an election, according to Abramson, at least 11,697 persons — equal to two-thirds of the 17,545 voters who voted for Turnbull in 2002 — would have to turn out for that election, and a majority of them would have to vote to recall the governor.
Molyneaux said the St. Croix AFT local is drafting a proposal to send to Delegate Donna M. Christensen seeking a change in the recall law. "It's not user-friendly to the voting public," he said. "We are calling on the delegate to streamline it. We think to require 50 percent of the voters should not be there; it should be 5 or 10 percent."
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