Sept. 14, 2008 — Turning out in respectable numbers for a non-gubernatorial primary, some 8,357 out of a possible 36,473 eligible voters — almost 23 percent — cast ballots Saturday throughout the territory to put a few familiar faces onto the General Election ballot in November.
The numbers in the primary are still unofficial until all walk-in, absentee and provisional ballots are counted, according to Elections officials. Walk-in and absentee ballots will start being counted Monday, while officials will begin tallying the provisional ballots on Tuesday. Elections board members have 10 days to certify the results.
For the second time around, Democratic incumbents Shawn-Michael Malone and Louis P. Hill locked in the highest numbers in the St. Thomas-St. John Senate race, moving through Saturday's primary with 2,340 and 2,335 votes respectively.
If they make it through the General Election in November, this will be the fourth Senate term for both. Malone and Hill also put up the highest numbers during the 2006 primary.
Coming in a close third with 2,150 votes was former Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, who gave up his seat in the 2006 election after deciding to run for governor. Rounding out the group of seven to make it onto the General Election ballot were: newcomer Myron D. Jackson with 1,864 votes; Democratic incumbent Alvin L. Williams with 1,865 votes; Patrick Simeon Sprauve with 1,858 votes; and former Internal Revenue Bureau head Louis "Lolo" Willis with 1,499 votes.
Two-time Senate hopeful Shirley M. Sadler was knocked out of the running after coming in with 972 votes.
Newcomer Michael Thurland — currently one of the territory's Constitutional Convention delegates — was the highest vote-getter in the St. Croix Senate race, pulling in 2,004 votes.
"I've got through the primary before, but never this high," Thurland said Saturday. "Last time I was 20 votes behind Neville James and was fourth. This time around my campaign committee and I we did some different things. People knew me too; they were more familiar with me from running before. I also feel that being a member of the 5th Constitutional convention gave me some notoriety."
Democratic incumbents Neville James and Ronald E. Russell slid into the second and third slots, bringing in 1,666 and 1,573 votes, respectively. Rounding out the St. Croix seven are: newcomer Wayne James with 1,501 votes; Democratic incumbent James A. Weber III with 1,393 votes; Sammuel Sanes with 1,387 votes; and Diane Capehart with 1,274 votes.
Now serving out his second term at the Legislature, Sen. Juan Figueroa-Serville was knocked out of the running Saturday, coming in eighth with 1,190 votes. Only the top seven vote-getters from each district move onto the General Election.
"I'd like to thank the people of St. Croix and the people of the Virgin Islands for the support I've received over the past four years. As a young Virgin Islander I was given the privilege to serve," Figueroa-Serville said Saturday.
Former Sen. Craig W. Barshinger posted high numbers throughout the evening, keeping his vote count at least 1,000 above senatorial hopefuls Lorelei Monsanto and Harry Daniel at all times. By the end of the night, Barshinger had clenched the bid for the at-large seat with 3,062 votes, while Monsanto and Daniel pulled in 1,676 and 1,212 votes respectively.
Barshinger also made it through the 2006 primary, but lost in the General Election to Independent Citizens Movement (ICM) Sen. Carmen M. Wesselhoft. The two will be facing off again at the General Election in November. Though the senator-at-large is required to live on St. John, residents in both districts can vote for that seat.
"We actually won the primary by a wider margin this time than last time," Barshinger said Saturday evening. "But it is not just about getting elected. We are about solving problems. The number one priority is taking care of WAPA (V.I. Water and Power Authority) and right up with it is the education of our children."
It was a landslide Saturday for Donna M. Christensen, whose 5,631 votes knocked Victor O. Frazer out of the running for the Delegate to Congress seat. Speaking from her headquarters on St. Croix, Christensen said she was "happy and grateful" to have received "overwhelming support" from V.I. residents.
Though there are no other candidates vying for the position, Christensen's name will still appear on this year's General Election ballot. Between now and November, Christensen said she plans on "interacting with people across the territory, listening to their issues and seeing what I can do to help resolve them."
Hot button issues on both the local and national level include education, housing, health and the continuing energy crisis, she said.
Candidates for the V.I. Board of Education in both districts also appeared on this year's primary ballot — six for St. Thomas-St. John and nine for St. Croix. Each district board has four open slots. One candidate automatically comes from St. John, and this year the only candidate to throw his hat in the ring for the at-large seat is Oswin Sewer, a current Board of Education member.
For the St. Thomas-St. John Board of Education, Judy M. Gomez pulled in 1,651 votes, followed closely by Debra Smith-Watlington — the board's current chairwoman — with 1,544 votes. Current board member Keith Richards also came away a winner with 1,414 votes, while newcomer Arah C. Lockhart filled out the fourth seat with 1,117 votes. The winners will join other ICM and no-party candidates on the General Election ballot.
On St. Croix, the top vote-getters were: Janis A. Esannason with 1,067 votes; Winona "Pat" Hendricks with 1,012 votes; Terrence T. Joseph with 990 votes; and May Adams Cornwall with 903 votes.
The territory's boards of elections also have to fill some seats this year, with about eight slots open between the two district boards. By law, each board cannot have more than four members from each party serving at the same time, so this year voters were only able to select one Democratic candidate from each district.
For St. Thomas-St. John, Democratic candidate Lorna A.C. Thomas took the winning slot, beating out Edwardo Carmona Sr. and Orial E. Webb with 1,092 votes. On St. Croix, Dodson James pulled off the win with 907 votes. Both Thomas and James will also face off against other ICM and no party candidates during the General Election.
. This year's primary also served as an election for candidates running for Democratic, Republican and ICM party offices.
The unofficial winners are:
Democratic Party National Committeeman
Glen Smith with 1,510 votes
Democratic Party National Committeewoman
Carol M. Burke with 1,334 votes
Democratic Party State Chairman
Luis "Tito" Morales with 1,419 votes
Democratic Party St. Thomas-St. John District Chairman
Delores Thomas with 815 votes
Democratic Territorial Committee, at-large members
Luis "Tito" Morales, 2,109 votes
Carol Burke, 1,894 votes
Marylyn Stapleton, 1,772 votes
Arah C. Lockhart, 1,707 votes
Pedro "Pete" Encarnacion, 1,508 votes
Ida White with 1,439 votes
Malcolm D. McGregor 1,363 votes
Kenn Hobson, 1,284 votes
Nemmy Williams-Jackson, 1,211 votes
Darryl George, 1,171 votes
Florine Audain-Hassell, 1,020 votes
Laura Petersen, 956 votes
Aminah Saleem, 924 votes
Omar B.U. Henry, 819 votes
Dave E. Davis, 740 votes
Cedric Prince, 631 votes
Democratic Territorial Committee, St. Thomas members
Dwayne A. Benjamin, 1,142 votes
Julie E. Woods-Dukes, 940 votes
Lesley Comissiong, 916 votes
Angel Turnbull, 772 votes
Sandra Thomas-Mason, 768 votes
Mark Hodge, 739 votes
Democratic Territorial Committee, St. Croix members
Raymond J. Williams, 1,327 votes
Paul J. Arnold, Sr., 1,0
Valencio Jackson, 898 votes
Nemmy Williams-Jackson, 834 votes
Janet E. Brow, 818 votes
Yvette J. Edwards, 672 votes
Democratic Territorial Committee, St. John members
There were 19 write-in votes (the names of the write in candidates will not be released until all the votes — including walk-ins, absentee and provisional ballots — have been tallied, according to Elections' officials)
Republican Party State Chairman
Herb Schoenbohm, 74 votes
Republican Party Territorial Committee, at-large members
April Newland, 79 votes
There were 127 write in votes (the names of the write-in candidates will not be released until all the votes are tallied)
Republican Party Territorial Committee, St. Croix members
PatriciaMurphy, 47 votes
Martin P. Merrick, 39 votes
James T. Bland, Jr., 38 votes
Tracy Pardo de Zela, 34 votes
Pattie Martin Bland, 26 votes
There were 32 write-in votes (the names of the write- in candidates will not be released until all the votes are tallied)
Republican Party Territorial Committee, St. Thomas members
There were eight write in votes (the names of the write-in candidates will not be released until all the votes are tallied)
Republican Party Territorial Committee, St. John members
There were six write-in votes (the names of the write-in candidates will not be released until all the votes are tallied)
ICM Party Territorial Committee, at-large members
Stedmann Hodge Jr., 39 votes
There were also 43 write-in votes (the names of the write-in candidates will not be released until the votes are tallied)
ICM Party Territorial Committee, St. Thomas members
Andre Ottley, 32 votes
Kent Daniel, 26 votes
Mario A. Francis, 26 votes
Elma L. Smith, 23 votes
Jaime Perez, 22 votes
There were four write in votes (the name of the winning write-in candidate will not be released until all the votes are tallied)
ICM Party Territorial Committee, St. Croix members
There were 19 write-in votes (the name of the write in candidates will not be released until all the votes are tallied)
ICM Party Territorial Committee, St. John members
There were four write-in votes (the name of the write-in candidates will not be released until all the votes are tallied).
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Editors note: The Source initially incorrectly reported the number of votes cast in the St. Thomas-St. John district. The numbers have been corrected and the unofficial winners were always correct.