When former Sen. Alicia “Chucky” Hansen was asked what she expected shortly before Wednesday’s hearing on her case at Superior Court, she answered, “Drama.” She got that and a little suspense as Judge Douglas Brady promised to make a ruling before 5 p.m. on Friday.
Hansen has appealed to the court to stop the St. Croix District Board of Elections from taking her off the ballot. On Aug. 31 the board decided to remove Hansen from the ballot as questions of the legality of her candidacy arose after she requested a legal name change and it was found that she was not using the name on her birth certificate.
Attorney Lee Rohn represented Hansen. Rohn said the board’s action was based on a section of the V.I. Code that related to voter registration and not to candidates. She also argued that Alicia Hansen was the candidate’s legal name because Hansen had been using that name, which was the last name of her adopted parents, all her life.
Rohn referred to various documents – school report cards, marriage license, social security card, passport and a diploma.
She called to the witness stand Hansen and her husband, Esdel Hansen. When Rohn asked Hansen whether she had ever used any another name than Alicia Hansen, Hansen answered, “No.” The name appearing on her birth certificate is Alden Alicia Pickering.
Hansen, her husband, testified that he always knew his wife as Alicia Hansen. He also testified that he always considered her adoptive mother (who had the last name Hansen) as his mother-in-law and that he and his wife paid for the adoptive mother’s burial.
Caroline Fawkes, supervisor of elections, also testified, summarizing actions the board took after receiving a challenge from Lauretta Petersen of the Democratic Party to Hansen’s candidacy.
Another argument that Rohn put forth was that Hansen was not given a fair chance to respond to the board’s concern.
St. Croix Elections Board Chairwoman Lilliana Belardo de O’Neal was called to the stand and testifies that Hansen had been notified of the challenge and the board’s action. She said that questions were sent to Hansen so answers could be obtained to clarify the situation.
Belardo de O’Neal said that nothing in the V.I. Code specified that a hearing needed to be held. She also said, “This was the first time, under my leadership, that the board had to deal with a challenge.” She emphasized that because of approaching election deadlines, “We had to deal with this immediately.”
Rohn also brought up a letter from Attorney General Claude Walker to the board earlier this month that said Petersen’s challenge was flawed and the board should not base any action on it.
In a St. Croix district board meeting earlier in the day the board decided not to change its stance concerning the removal of Hansen’s name. After a lengthy executive session the board came back in public session and said it had received another challenge to Hansen’s candidacy. However, this other challenge was not brought up in the afternoon hearing.
The elections board was represented by lawyers from the Attorney General’s Office and led by Erika Scott. She argued that due process was granted to Hansen by communications from the board of elections and that the board was fulfilling its duties in showing concern over various “inconsistencies” in documents with Hansen’s name.
Fawkes testified that Friday was the “drop-dead” deadline for have a draft of the ballot completed.