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Debate Canceled After Mapp Demands Change of Moderators

Monday evening the two V.I. Chambers of Commerce canceled Tuesday’s gubernatorial debate on St. Croix after the Ken Mapp/Malik Sekou campaign demanded a change to the previously agreed-to moderators, alleging Holland Redfield “verbally assaulted” Sekou – a claim Redfield vigorously denies.
“We are disappointed in that we had worked out the details of the planned debate and agreed to the co-moderators with both campaigns back in September,” said St. Croix Chamber of Commerce President Scot McChain in a statement. “At this point, it is unfair for either campaign to want to change the rules and the moderators that were previously agreed to.”
As a result, they will cancel the debate rather than renegotiate the rules at the last minute with either campaign, McChain said.
Earlier Monday, the Mapp/Sekou campaign announced it would not participate in the debate if former Sen. Holland Redfield served as a co-moderator with St. Croix Attorney Douglas Brady. This reverses an agreement reached on Sept. 28, when the Mapp/Sekou campaign agreed to have Redfield as a co-moderator if the Chamber accepted a co-moderator.
At that time, the Mapp/Sekou campaign suggested three individuals: attorney Douglas Brady, UVI professor Simon Hendrickson or TV-2 anchor Sandra Goomansingh. The St. Croix Chamber chose Brady.
Trying to save the debate from cancellation, St. Croix Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Michael Dembeck emailed Petersen Monday afternoon asking if the Mapp/Sekou campaign would participate in the debate if Brady was the sole moderator. Petersen replied that he would take that suggestion to Kenneth Mapp for consideration.
After Dembeck presented the suggestion to the presidents of both Chambers, however, a joint decision was made to cancel the debate rather than change any of the rules at the last minute.
“It is a matter of maintaining the rules as they were previously agreed to rather than bending to the preferences of a particular candidate,” said St. Thomas Chamber President Richard Berry in the two chambers’ joint statement. Berry also noted the chambers’ disappointment that the Mapp campaign had objected to Redfield "after months of planning … with clearly spelled out rules for the debate."
Mapp campaign officials say Mapp is eager to debate deJongh but contends Redfield is too biased.
“We reluctantly agreed at first because we were trying to be fair and compromising,” Mapp’s campaign manager Eugene “Doc” Petersen said Monday night in a conference call with the Source and Mapp campaign press secretary Lisa Posey. They were never comfortable with Redfield because he “has been promoting the administration on his radio show,” Petersen said.
“The last straw was Friday when he actually accosted Dr. Sekou,” Petersen said.
Posey agreed, adding “it was very objectionable, with a lot of obscenities. He was verbally assaulted by this man.”
Asked for details, Posey said she was not present. Petersen said the confrontation occurred at the radio station offices where he and Redfield both work, and he heard it from his office and went outside to see.
“Holland was shouting at Dr. Sekou, admonishing him for the conduct at Gertrude’s and telling him this wasn’t going to happen at his debate,” Petersen said.
Redfield strongly disputed that characterization in a phone interview Monday night.
“That is not what happened and that is not how I conduct myself,” said Redfield. Monday night. “I believe my reputation precedes me on my personality and how I behave.”
According to Redfield, he had a “civil but firm discussion with [Mapp] where I made it clear I expected both candidates to control their supporters. I told him I was going to have the same discussion with the deJongh camp (See "Jabs, Distortions Fly In DeJongh-Mapp Debate").
"I don’t care which side it is; we are not going to have anything like the disgraceful behavior in the audience at last week’s forum at Gertrude’s. Over the 41 years I’ve been here, including six terms in the Legislature, I have never seen anything like what happened there.”
Supporters of both candidates frequently interrupted answers and shouted catcalls and epithets from the audience during that debate.
Redfield did not claim to be unbiased in his personal views, but said they did not affect his role as moderator.
“I’ve defended the administration, I don’t make a secret of that,” he said. “But as moderator, I do little more than read aloud the questions provided by the Chamber and keep track of the time. Everyone has seen before how I go about it.”
The Chambers also say Redfield had little power to influence the debate.
“The moderators were assigned simply to pose the questions that were submitted to the paper without authority to deviate from those questions,” according to the Chambers’ joint statement.
Posey said deJongh was behind the debate cancellation because he is afraid to debate Mapp on the issues.
“Clearly, if the governor wanted to debate Ken Mapp, he would,” Posey said. When it was pointed out that if the Mapp campaign had not insisted on changing the moderators, the debate would still be on, Posey said “there was no ultimatum.”
She and Petersen said they were surprised when the debate was canceled, as they were under the impression an agreement had been reached.
The deJongh camp jumped on the news of the cancellation, saying it showed Mapp’s temperament.
“Ken Mapp showed the people of the Virgin Islands today that it is always about him, it has to be ‘his way or no way,’” said deJongh/Francis Campaign Chairman Robert O’Connor Jr. “This posture has long been Ken Mapp’s modus operandi—from his days in the Senate to his tenure as the territory’s lieutenant governor.”

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Monday evening the two V.I. Chambers of Commerce canceled Tuesday's gubernatorial debate on St. Croix after the Ken Mapp/Malik Sekou campaign demanded a change to the previously agreed-to moderators, alleging Holland Redfield “verbally assaulted” Sekou – a claim Redfield vigorously denies.
“We are disappointed in that we had worked out the details of the planned debate and agreed to the co-moderators with both campaigns back in September,” said St. Croix Chamber of Commerce President Scot McChain in a statement. “At this point, it is unfair for either campaign to want to change the rules and the moderators that were previously agreed to.”
As a result, they will cancel the debate rather than renegotiate the rules at the last minute with either campaign, McChain said.
Earlier Monday, the Mapp/Sekou campaign announced it would not participate in the debate if former Sen. Holland Redfield served as a co-moderator with St. Croix Attorney Douglas Brady. This reverses an agreement reached on Sept. 28, when the Mapp/Sekou campaign agreed to have Redfield as a co-moderator if the Chamber accepted a co-moderator.
At that time, the Mapp/Sekou campaign suggested three individuals: attorney Douglas Brady, UVI professor Simon Hendrickson or TV-2 anchor Sandra Goomansingh. The St. Croix Chamber chose Brady.
Trying to save the debate from cancellation, St. Croix Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Michael Dembeck emailed Petersen Monday afternoon asking if the Mapp/Sekou campaign would participate in the debate if Brady was the sole moderator. Petersen replied that he would take that suggestion to Kenneth Mapp for consideration.
After Dembeck presented the suggestion to the presidents of both Chambers, however, a joint decision was made to cancel the debate rather than change any of the rules at the last minute.
“It is a matter of maintaining the rules as they were previously agreed to rather than bending to the preferences of a particular candidate,” said St. Thomas Chamber President Richard Berry in the two chambers' joint statement. Berry also noted the chambers' disappointment that the Mapp campaign had objected to Redfield "after months of planning ... with clearly spelled out rules for the debate."
Mapp campaign officials say Mapp is eager to debate deJongh but contends Redfield is too biased.
“We reluctantly agreed at first because we were trying to be fair and compromising,” Mapp's campaign manager Eugene “Doc” Petersen said Monday night in a conference call with the Source and Mapp campaign press secretary Lisa Posey. They were never comfortable with Redfield because he “has been promoting the administration on his radio show,” Petersen said.
“The last straw was Friday when he actually accosted Dr. Sekou,” Petersen said.
Posey agreed, adding “it was very objectionable, with a lot of obscenities. He was verbally assaulted by this man.”
Asked for details, Posey said she was not present. Petersen said the confrontation occurred at the radio station offices where he and Redfield both work, and he heard it from his office and went outside to see.
“Holland was shouting at Dr. Sekou, admonishing him for the conduct at Gertrude's and telling him this wasn't going to happen at his debate,” Petersen said.
Redfield strongly disputed that characterization in a phone interview Monday night.
“That is not what happened and that is not how I conduct myself,” said Redfield. Monday night. “I believe my reputation precedes me on my personality and how I behave.”
According to Redfield, he had a “civil but firm discussion with [Mapp] where I made it clear I expected both candidates to control their supporters. I told him I was going to have the same discussion with the deJongh camp (See "Jabs, Distortions Fly In DeJongh-Mapp Debate").
"I don't care which side it is; we are not going to have anything like the disgraceful behavior in the audience at last week's forum at Gertrude's. Over the 41 years I've been here, including six terms in the Legislature, I have never seen anything like what happened there.”
Supporters of both candidates frequently interrupted answers and shouted catcalls and epithets from the audience during that debate.
Redfield did not claim to be unbiased in his personal views, but said they did not affect his role as moderator.
“I've defended the administration, I don't make a secret of that,” he said. “But as moderator, I do little more than read aloud the questions provided by the Chamber and keep track of the time. Everyone has seen before how I go about it.”
The Chambers also say Redfield had little power to influence the debate.
“The moderators were assigned simply to pose the questions that were submitted to the paper without authority to deviate from those questions,” according to the Chambers' joint statement.
Posey said deJongh was behind the debate cancellation because he is afraid to debate Mapp on the issues.
“Clearly, if the governor wanted to debate Ken Mapp, he would,” Posey said. When it was pointed out that if the Mapp campaign had not insisted on changing the moderators, the debate would still be on, Posey said “there was no ultimatum.”
She and Petersen said they were surprised when the debate was canceled, as they were under the impression an agreement had been reached.
The deJongh camp jumped on the news of the cancellation, saying it showed Mapp's temperament.
“Ken Mapp showed the people of the Virgin Islands today that it is always about him, it has to be 'his way or no way,'” said deJongh/Francis Campaign Chairman Robert O’Connor Jr. “This posture has long been Ken Mapp’s modus operandi—from his days in the Senate to his tenure as the territory’s lieutenant governor.”