The recently formed Reform Action Alliance announced on Monday that it won’t field at-large election candidates as originally planned.
Instead, it will focus on serving as a “non-partisan watchdog for the people” of the territory, the group stated in a press release.
“It’s exciting to now concentrate fully on our original mandate, which is to provide a collective voice for the people and to act as advocates for holding the government accountable,” Sarah Penney, an RAA founder, said in the press release. “A lot of promises are being made in the run-up to the election, and our intention is to ensure that the elected government lives up to those promises.”
Ms. Penney, who had not been publicly identified as an RAA member until the Monday press release, added that voter education will be a priority in the coming weeks.
“Accordingly, we’ll be stepping forward decisively to help voters better understand who’s who, what’s what and why the performance of an individual’s civic duty at the polls is of critical importance in rebuilding a stronger BVI,” she said.
Cindy Rosan-Jones — who until Monday was one of three publicly identified RAA members, along with Bashaar Tarabay and Esther Fraser — explained that putting forward more candidates could “further fragment voter choices and be counterproductive.”
“Potential candidates we’ve found to date will be working with us in our watchdog role, and some will be setting their caps for the next general elections,” she said.
The RAA is inviting voters and non-voters alike to share their concerns and ideas by e-mailing email@example.com.
The group will soon publish a “Guidance Note” for voters, in-depth profiles of all candidates, and a comparison of all party manifestos, according to the press release.
When the RAA launched with a press release on New Year’s Day, it identified itself as a civic group that was planning to run four at-large candidates, but Ms. Rosan-Jones said at the time that it didn’t wish to be known as a political party.
“We wanted to do something like a coalition of independents because we want people to not feel obligated to any organisation if we had to put candidates forward,” she told the Beacon shortly after the launch.
The New Year’s Day press release stated that the RAA was made up of “50 Virgin Islanders and their supporters” who came together after ten months of meetings, focus group discussions and market research.
Until this week, however, Ms. Rosan-Jones, Mr. Tarabay and Ms. Fraser were the only people publicly tied to the RAA. Now only they and Ms. Penney have been named.
“We have an issue in the BVI with victimisation and cornering people based on where they want to be and so forth,” Ms. Rosan-Jones said in early January in explaining why other members had not been identified.
She added that she expected more individuals — supporters and members of the group’s committee alike — to come forward soon.
“We’re not hiding,” she said at the time. “Those who are comfortable to come forward, they’ll come forward.”
This article has been corrected to accurately reflect the number of RAA members who had been identified as of the date of publication.