Preston Stoutt, the youngest son of the territory’s first chief minister, will run in the next general election as an independent at-large candidate, he announced last Thursday afternoon at Noel Lloyd Positive Action Movement Park.
“We in the BVI are at a turning point in our development as a people and as a territory,” Mr. Stoutt told reporters and campaign workers at the announcement of his launch. “I believe that due to various decisions being made by our government of the day, creating a vision for the BVI has been forgotten. There is a void of constructive concepts, and instead it has become a complacent system that is bankrupt of hope.”
He added that he wants to create long-term plans for the territory’s most important concerns.
Mr. Stoutt, a corporate manager at a trust company, spoke broadly about the issues, and directed reporters who asked for specifics to his campaign website, stouttforbvi.com. The site states that Mr. Stoutt would like the Virgin Islands to review its systems of education, immigration, tourism and law enforcement.
The site lists several initiatives Mr. Stoutt supports:
• adopting a “new educational model,” such as the Canadian model;
• introducing bilingual education in public schools;
• establishing an “internationally accredited” trade or vocational school;
• fining those who employ workers without a proper work permit;
• revoking work permits of workers who take on additional jobs without proper work permits;
• closing any “loopholes” in immigration legislation;
• promoting the hiring of Virgin Islanders by establishing a “database within the Labour Department of BVIslanders with information regarding their respective professions and contact details;”
• creating a tourism and culture ministry;
• turning Main Street into a “historical district” and eliminating traffic between the former Road Town post office and the college bakery to vehicles except for delivery and pickup;
• making the VI a stop on the ATP World Tour, a high-profile tennis tour;
• leasing Prospect Reef to an operator who agrees to refurbish the property;
• extending the Terrance B. Lettsome runway to accommodate large planes from major hub airports;
• imposing stiffer sentences for possessing an unlicensed firearm;
• implementing a territory-wide recycling programme with bins for paper, plastic and glass;
• implementing a reliably on-time public bus system; and
• building a parking garage with a shuttle into town, among other ideas.
Last Thursday, Mr. Stoutt said he wants to “shine a light” on the process of government so that the public can trust public officials again.
He also encouraged residents to “provide their own ideas” to him throughout the campaign and beyond via his website or at upcoming meet-and-greet sessions. Mr. Stoutt also has active social network profiles for his campaign on Facebook and Twitter, plus a youtube channel with a video statement.
As far as his party allegiance, Mr. Stoutt said he has “been approached” but that “for now, my loyalty is to the people of the BVI.” He later added that the district system is flawed and has turned into an unfair system.
Mr. Stoutt appeared not to want to focus too much on his famous father, telling reporters who asked what the late H. Lavity Stoutt would have thought about the current government that he didn’t want to “assume or presume” what his father might have done.
“I’ve learned great lessons from my father, but none greater than this: … If I take office, my occupation will be to serve the people,” he said, later adding, “It’s time for me to prove myself.”