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Elections System holds casting of lots for Democratic Party primary election

Attorney Russell Pate, a new senatorial candidate, participates in the casting of lots Tuesday at the Elections System of the Virgin Islands office in the Sunny Isle Shopping Center.
Attorney Russell Pate, a new senatorial candidate, participates in the casting of lots Tuesday at the Elections System of the Virgin Islands office in the Sunny Isle Shopping Center.

ST. CROIX — Members of the Democratic Party running for various public offices picked numbers for the position their names will appear on the official ballot for the August 3 primary election during casting of lots Tuesday at the Elections System of the Virgin Islands offices in both island districts.

All the Democratic Party candidates who will be participating in the primary election have been officially certified by the Elections System as part of a process that must be concluded by June 11.

The candidates on St. Croix who picked numbers during casting of the lots are running for Senate, as well as to serve on the Board of Elections. Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett is the only Democrat running for delegate to Congress in either district, so she will automatically advance to the general election.

There are 12 Democrats running for Senate on St. Croix. They either participated in the casting of lots themselves, sent a representative to pull their number, or had their number pulled by an Elections System official.

The senatorial candidates from St. Croix and their lot numbers are attorney Russell Pate, 1; Senator Kenneth Gittens, 2; former Senator Genevieve Whitaker, 3; Senator Diane Capehart, 4; former Senator Nereida Rivera O’Reilly, 5; Justin Curtis Smith, 6; Hubert Frederick, 7; former Senator Kurt Vialet, 8; Senator Marise James, 9; Michael Springer Jr., 10; Clifford Joseph, 11; and Senate President Novelle Francis Jr., 12.

Pate, Whitaker, Capehart, Frederick, James, Springer, and Francis all showed up to pick their own numbers.

Pate, who is running for a seat in the Senate for the first time, emphasized the need to reform the political system to give more rights to Virgin Islanders and promote self-determination, with the goal of creating a better future for generations to come. He said he is running on a platform for action and progress.

“I've got a plan of action and I hope to kind of fight for Virgin Islands empowerment, enfranchisement, kind of taking the bull by the horns,” he said. “And there's a lot of things the legislature can do to get more rights for the territory and self-governance.”

Whitaker, who previously served in the 34th Legislature, emphasized the importance of voting rights and her ongoing advocacy for the constituents she serves. She expressed passion for her work in the areas of education reform, health care, and supporting small businesses.

“I’m seeking to be re-elected,” she said. “I didn’t stop my work after I left. I continue to do my work. Constituent work is pretty extensive. I continue to do that, and I hope to humbly, with the support of voters of St. Croix, to get back into office.”

James, a freshman senator, emphasized the importance of participating in the democratic process, highlighting the value of involvement in the casting of lots process. She picked No. 9, which was the same number she had during the last primary election.

“I feel really, really good about No. 9,” she said, clarifying that the number doesn’t win elections. “It doesn’t matter what number. It’s your name — Marise James.”

Springer, who previously ran for Senate five times as an independent candidate and returned to the Democratic Party on February 1, 2023, emphasized transparency in the political process while participating in the casting of lots.

“I've been an individual who wants to see good governance here in the Virgin Islands, and perseverance and persistency is something that I always bring with my candidacy to represent the people of the Virgin Islands,” he said.

The candidates from St. Croix running for a seat on the Board of Elections as well as their lot numbers are Jason JnBaptiste, 1; Anthony Mardenborough Jr., 2; and Simone James, 3.

The candidates in the St. Thomas/St. John District who participated in casting of lots included those running for the Board of Elections and Board of Education.

The candidates from the St. Thomas/St. John District running for a seat on the Board of Elections and their lot numbers are former board member Lawrence Boschulte, 1; Chaneel Callwood, 2; current board member Angeli Leerdam, 3; and Ida-Mae Brown, 4.

The candidates from the St. Thomas/St. John District running to serve on the Board of Education and their lot numbers are incumbents Kyza Callwood, 1, and Nandi Sekou, 2, as well as Bruce Flamon, 3.

At-Large Senator Angel Bolques Jr. is the only Democrat from the St. Thomas/St. John District running for the at-large senatorial seat, so he will automatically advance to the general election.

Only seven Democrats from the St. Thomas-St. John District are running for a senatorial seat, so all seven will advance to the general election. They are Senators Carla Joseph, Ray Fonseca, Milton Potter, and Marvin Blyden, as well as St. Thomas/Water Island Administrator Avery Lewis, Shanelle Fina Francis, and Michael Smith. Francis Serieux, a Democrat who filed a nomination petition to run for Senate in the St. Thomas/St. John District, was disqualified because he did not obtain enough signatures.

Now that the casting of lots has concluded for the primary election, the Elections System will continue the process moving toward the election.

“The next step in the election process is getting the ballot approved,” St. Croix Deputy Supervisor of Elections Terrell Alexandre said, adding that all federal ballots must be mailed out to military and overseas personnel by June 18.

Democratic Party caucus:

Separately, Democrats will have an opportunity to vote for delegates to represent the Virgin Islands at the 2024 Democratic National Convention from August 19 to 22 in Chicago during the Democratic Party caucus on Saturday.

The Democratic Party will send six automatic delegates to the Democratic National Convention, as well as seven elected delegates and one alternate. The six automatic delegates are Plaskett; Bolques, the party’s national committeeman; Democratic State Chair Stedmann Hodge Jr.; Carol Burke, the party’s vice chair; National Committeewoman Donna Christensen; and Governor Albert Bryan Jr.

Interested registered Democrats were required to file a “statement of candidacy,” which included pledging support to President Joe Biden, Marianne Williamson, or uncommitted, according to a Democratic Party press release. When voters participate, they will also be allowed to vote for their choice of the Democratic presidential nominee and the candidates for delegates by district. The Democratic National Committee has strict guidelines that promote gender equality in the composition of state and territory delegations.

The delegates elected from the St. Croix District will be two men and one woman. The candidates are Cecil Benjamin, John Gumbs, Wilfredo Guzman Martinez, Robert Rios, Ronald Russell, Carolyn Burke, and Yvette Edwards. The delegates elected from the St. Thomas/St. John District will be two men and two women. The candidates are Kyza Callwood, Kevin Rodriquez, Delekah Callwood, Barbara Petersen, and Riise Richards.

The Democratic Party caucus will take place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday with voting at La Reine Chicken Shack on St. Croix, in the West Indian Company Limited conference room at Havensight on St. Thomas, and at the Julius E. Sprauve School conference room on St. John. Early voting will be from 1 to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday on St. Croix and St. Thomas, and from 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday on St. John.

The Board of Elections will conduct a voter registration drive from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday on St. Croix and St. Thomas. Newly-registered Democrats will be allowed to participate in the caucus.

Tom Eader is the Chief Reporter for WTJX. Originally from South Bend, Indiana, Eader received his bachelor's degree in journalism from Ball State University, where he wrote for his college newspaper. He moved to St. Croix in 2003, after landing a job as a reporter for the St. Croix Avis. Eader worked at the Avis for 20 years, as both a reporter and photographer, and served as Bureau Chief from 2013 until their closure at the beginning of 2024. Eader is an award-winning journalist, known for his thorough and detailed reporting on multiple topics important to the Virgin Islands community. Joining the WTJX team in January of 2024, Eader brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the newsroom. Email: | Phone: 340-227-4463
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