Sept. 13, 2008 — The 2008 primary election went much the way it's gone in the past, though the din from campaigners was lower and the voting pace of residents slower.
By 12:40 p.m. Saturday, only 215 people had voted at Juanita Gardine Elementary School. The polling site was set up with three polling stations for those who normally vote at Gardine, Elena Christian Junior High School and John F. Kennedy housing community.
"It's been very slow — hardly been a lot of people coming," Patricia Browne, an Election judge said at the Elena Christian polling station, which was essentially adjoining classroom where voters with names from A to L and M to Z could vote.
This is Browne's fifth year as a polling station judge for the Elections System.
"It's been overcast a bit but I don't believe this is the reason why it's so slow," she said "I don't know what it is but this is the slowest I've seen a primary before noon."
Outside Gardine, Christiana St. Rose was campaigning for her husband, George, who is vying for a seat as a member of the St. Croix Territorial Committee of the Democratic Party.
"The primary is always slow," she said. "It's usually the gubernatorial primary that's alive. The off-year is never usually busy."
Still, as she spoke, a small crowd of supporters showed glimpses of how excited off-year campaigners can be, waving placards bearing photos of their candidates. Every once in a while, a fellow campaigner driving by would blare the horn, sending those on the sidelines into shouts of appreciation.
This year, instead of the ubiquitous campaign flier that usually gets dumped into the nearest trash bin, supporters mostly waved the posterboard photo of their candidate as potential voters either walked or drove by.
Outside Pearl B. Larsen Elementary School, a huge poster of incumbent Sen. James Webber stood next to a cardboard poster, sans photo, emblazoned with the name of senatorial candidate Steve Nisky.
All day Saturday, the streets of St. Croix were almost ghostly, with no impromptu parades from supporters of candidates or loudspeakers blaring the choice of a candidate. Around 3 p.m. Saturday, incumbent Sen. Ronald Russell drove through a housing community in a red SUV — but nothing blared from the megaphones atop the vehicle.
At Eulalie Rivera Elementary School, one of the busiest polling sites, supporters of senatorial candidate Samuel Sanes greeted him with wild cheers. It was the same at Alexander Henderson Elementary School, another busy polling site, both with voting underway and a larger gathering of supporters of candidates vying for office.
About an hour later, at 3:30 p.m., Sanes had made his way to the Juanita Gardine polling site. This time the loud applause was not just for him. It turned out that supporters of the various candidates vying for office realized that a television crew was filming nearby and stood from their seats to scream and wave their placards. Senatorial candidate Terrence D. Joseph was there and joined the fray.
Sanes, a former Navy specialist, first ran in 2006 and placed ninth, he said.
This year, he said, he's hoping to do better and if the choices from voters throughout Saturday were any indication, he just might get his wish.
"My chances are pretty good because for the last couple of years I immersed myself in the community and I've been hearing from a lot of people that they want change," Sanes said. "I truly believe change is going to happen because people are frustrated and overwhelmed with problems — the energy crisis and rising crime, in particular."
Sanes and fellow senatorial candidate Nisky were among the most well-known names from those who voted. In fact, at Juanita Gardine, a man walked up to Joseph, who was campaigning nearby to apologize in advance.
"Hey man, if the next man wins with one vote, that will be my vote because I voted for two people, you and Sanes," he said, shaking hands with Joseph.
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