Anything Premier Ralph O’Neal can do, Devon Osborne can do, too, the independent candidate for the Ninth District said at his campaign launch in Virgin Gorda Saturday.

“There isn’t anything that our elected representative can do at this stage that I cannot do,” Mr. Osborne said, later adding, “I am confident that I will do a much better job.”

The ZROD personality and former press secretary for Mr. O’Neal is making his second bid to represent the district. In 2007, Mr. Osborne received 46 votes, or about 4.6 percent of the votes cast in the district, and he pledged on Saturday that regardless of this election’s outcome, this won’t be the last time he runs for office.

“Let me make this clear.  Four years from today, God spare my life, win or lose in this 2011 general election, I will be here once again to ask you to elect or re-elect me to the Ninth District in the third House of Assembly,” Mr. Osborne said.

The candidate said he is running because he is not satisfied with the progress of the Ninth District, citing the “dilapidated, rotten” parts of the Bregado Flax Educational Centre.

He also cited the growing field of candidates running to represent the district as proof of voters’ dissatisfaction. In 2003, Dr. Hubert O’Neal was Ralph O’Neal’s only opponent. In 2007, Mr. Osborne joined the race. Today, at least five candidates are set to compete for the Ninth District, Mr. Osborne said, calling the full field of candidates a strong message that “the entire world is sending to leaders who have served for over 25-30 years.”

In fact, Mr. O’Neal has been a representative in the Virgin Islands legislature for 36 years – since 1975. Mr. Osborne said he would like to see term limits to prevent legislators from serving more than three consecutive terms, a practice he said residents “no longer admire, especially when you are getting more of the same year in, year out and the country is not progressing.”

Mr. Osborne said his top priorities are improving the BFEC, completing the VG aquatic facility, and improving sports facilities in the district. He said he would push to turn the Iris O’Neal Clinic into “a 24-hour operational health centre or polyclinic where patients can be monitored overnight, babies can be delivered, and minor operations can be executed to help save lives.”

Mr. Osborne also wants to see an air ambulance in the VI to make transport to Peebles Hospital accessible to the entire territory, he said.

In VG, Mr. Osborne said, he plans to push for development of more beaches, “so that the tourists visiting will have more to look forward to and not just The Baths.” He would also like to see a daily ferry between VG and Anegada to make it easier for residents to travel to Tortola and St. Thomas, he said.

Mr. Osborne urged voters not to buy in to the “party all the way” slogans of the Virgin Islands Party and the National Democratic Party.

“Don’t make that mistake,” Mr. Osborne said. “Take a good look at the new generation of aspiring politicians and give them a chance, because you have nothing to lose. We are just as educated and in some circumstances even more educated with more common sense, to know that you do not disenfranchise your people.”

Youth rally

Mr. Osborne’s launch was also a youth rally. He invited Ninth District students to compete for two cash scholarships. Students were to write and perform “positive” songs on the theme “a new beginning,” which is also Mr. Osborne’s campaign slogan.

Mr. Osborne said there were three performers seeking to participate, but one had to be disqualified because he was not in school.

Both Andrea “Swagga Girl” Legair and Sapphire Flax-Clarke earned plenty of applause and cheers from the children and teens present Saturday, but Ms. Legair was the clear crowd favourite, even after requesting to start over partway through her first attempt at the song.

Mr. Osborne invited Ninth District residents to North Sound Saturday to hear “more details” about his plans for the district. He said he will be speaking at Suggie’s Bar and Restaurant at 8 p.m.