80.7 F
Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, June 23, 2024
HomeNewsLocal governmentOpening Channel for Government Workers to Become Politicians Called Pandora’s Box

Opening Channel for Government Workers to Become Politicians Called Pandora’s Box

Supervisor of Elections Caroline Fawkes (File ohoto from V.I. Legislature)
Supervisor of Elections Caroline Fawkes Thursday had several concerns she asked Senators to address. (Photo courtesy of V.I. Legislature)

Sens. Novelle Francis Jr. and Donna Frett-Gregory made the same statement at the Committee on Rules and Judiciary Thursday when a bill to allow government employees to run for political office while actively employed came up for discussion.

“We still have work to do,” they said.

Caroline Fawkes, Supervisor of the Election System, had the same sentiment, but her testimony referred to a wide range of election issues beyond the bill under discussion.

She testified that she supported the bill with one amendment. The amendment would require the candidate to take leave 60 days before any election.

Sen. Marise James questioned whether the 60-day amendment would “defeat the purpose of the bill.”

The amendment was not the only concern raised about the bill that, according to sponsor Frett-Gregory, was aimed at allowing workers who might “otherwise not have the opportunity” to run.

Concerns such as who would be responsible for ensuring that workers were not campaigning while on the job and whether the judiciary branch employees would not be included led to the bill being held in committee “for further amendments.”

Sen. Alma Francis Heyliger pointed out that the Senate in 2001 passed legislation to make it easier for government workers to run for office but it was repealed two years later. She said, “We have already done this.”

Sen. Kenneth Gittens said the proposed bill was akin “to opening Pandora’s Box” and could lead to government workers getting into trouble.

Fawkes said that her department did not appear as often in front of the Senate as other agencies, so she was going to state her case for several issues she thought needed to be addressed.

“We need the Legislature to seriously look at total election reform,” she said.

Her concerns covered areas such as the election calendar, filing electronically, establishing the Sixth Constitutional Convention, initiatives, referendums, recalls, recounts, and runoffs.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.