Sixteen years after first being elected, Alvin Christopher is asking the voters of his district to choose legislative experience and elect him again when they go to the polls Nov. 7.

“You cannot take chances with persons who have not proven to anybody that they possess the level of management skills that it takes to do this,” Mr. Christopher said at his campaign launch Friday evening in Cane Garden Bay.

The full slate of Virgin Islands Party candidates turned out to support Mr. Christopher, who Premier Ralph O’Neal said is the reason that the people of the Second District are reaping the benefits of the tourism industry.

The candidate said his work has benefitted the entire territory.

“My public life for the past 16 years has brought significant improvement not only to the Second District, but to every man, woman, boy and girl in these islands,” Mr. Christopher told the audience.

He said that he will be “forever grateful” for the continued support of Second District voters over the years.

Mr. Christopher asked people to look at his record of accomplishments as a district representative and government minister, which he said included establishing a sewage plant and bringing public water to Cane Garden Bay; construction of the fisherman’s dock at Brewers Bay; and improving the communications system in the territory.

“I am proud of these developments and accomplishments,” Mr. Christopher said, adding, “Your way of life has been improved and enhanced because of them.”

Future plans

Mr. Christopher said he plans to push for more use of modern technology “in all aspects of our lives, from medical care to education and planning and development.” He said such actions would reduce costs over the long term, but also provide better quality service for residents, such as more accurate diagnoses for hospital patients.

He also said new legislation to protect the environment must be brought forward soon. “We must continue to monitor how development fits in with our natural ecosystem,” Mr. Christopher said, adding that this includes preserving mangroves, which “are essential for the protection of our coastal line.”

The territory and the Second District face many challenges, Mr. Christopher said, but “just as we have faced challenges in the past, we will correct them as we move forward.” The VIP has “been at the forefront,” transforming the VI from an agrarian culture to one of “modern service,” which is based on tourism and financial services, he added.

Strengthening the “twin pillars” of the VI economy are the keys to continuing to provide the services that people of the VI expect, Mr. Christopher said.

“Have we arrived? The answer is an unequivocal no,” Mr. Christopher said. “However, the VIP has embarked on identifying new markets. The development of this little nation is work in progress.”

Mr. Christopher said he will continue to push for completion of the projects government has placed on the capital improvement projects budget: the Jost Van Dyke school and community centre, the New Bush basketball court, the Brewers Bay Park and the White Bay public restroom.

Past career

Mr. Christopher was elected in his first bid for office in 1995 as an independent candidate, but he later joined the VIP. In 1999, he was appointed minister of communications and works, a position he held until 2002. That year, then-Chief Minister Ralph O’Neal revoked his position, citing failure to handle his ministerial portfolio and unwillingness to cooperate with government. At the time, Mr. Christopher told the Beacon that he was sacked because he wouldn’t make unlawful changes to various public works projects and because he pushed for reform in systems that were being abused.

During the 2003 election campaigns, Mr. Christopher announced he would join the National Democratic Party. After winning re-election as an NDP member, he was appointed minister of natural resources and labour, and later minister of communications and works. In May 2006, he was ousted from his ministerial seat again, this time after an internal audit report said a project he oversaw in Brewers Bay bordered on fraud.

After Mr. Christopher was re-elected as an independent in 2007, he rejoined the VIP, and he has served as a backbencher since then.