Water issues and tourism were at the forefront of the agendas of the two Virgin Islands Party candidates who launched their campaigns over the past week: John Samuel in District Six and Arlene Smith-Thompson in District Three.
In his launch last Thursday at Island Sizzle in Baughers Bay, Mr. Samuel, a veteran boat pilot and public officer, accused his only opponent, Alvera Maduro-Caines, of lacking “appreciation for current challenges being faced by the district.”
Long-time public officer John Samuel cheers last Thursday as he launches his campaign at Island Sizzle in Baughers Bay. The Virgin Islands Party’s launches continue at 7 p.m. today with District Eight hopeful Dean Fahie in Red Bay.
￼He said that Ms. Maduro-Caines, a two-term representative, claimed on her Facebook page that there was “nothing broken to fix in District Six.”
On the contrary, Mr. Samuel claimed, the district has been suffering from a lack of social services and a glut of flooding, sewage and garbage.
Mr. Samuel went on to detail his plans to turn District Six into a “beautiful residential district” as well as a hub for tourism by installing a marina at Baughers Bay and running a ferry from there to the Tortola Pier Park.
“We now have a Belle Vue development project on the table where we will be putting together a development where the people of Belle Vue will be investors and shareholders in a commercial development providing needed commercial space in the district,” he added.
His plan also includes modernising the district’s primary schools and improving the Baughers Bay sports field to bring more sports tourism, which has been a common theme in the platform of VIP and others this election.
VIP Party Chairman Andrew Fahie sought to draw a line between Mr. Samuel and the late VIP legislator Omar Hodge, who represented the Sixth District for over 30 years, calling Mr. Hodge “the voice for the voiceless.”
The Third District’s water issues were at the top of the agenda when Arlene Smith-Thompson launched her campaign Saturday in Sea Cows Bay, saying she brought “a message of hope in the face of despair” for residents who are “begging and pleading for relief from an inconsistent water supply.”
She proposed recommissioning the Sea Cows Bay water plant as a stopgap measure until a more permanent solution is found to upgrade the current water supply, even if it means reallocating funds.
“If we have to do it, then let’s get it done,” she said.
As a long-time educator and school administrator, youth issues also featured at the forefront of her platform.
She recalled a student of hers with mobility issues who struggled each day up four flights of stairs to her classroom, saying it shouldn’t be necessary for such students to travel abroad for education that meets their needs. Her other ideas included a farmers market in the district, wellness campaigns and a district beautification council, with special attention paid to the pollution caused by trash burning in Pockwood Pond.
Ms. Smith-Thompson is upagainst Aaron Parillon, the National Democratic Party’s first- time candidate, and Julian Fraser, the former VIP chairman who has held the seat since 1999. Mr. Fraser is running for re-election as chairman of his new party, Progressives United.
Mr. Fahie, who beat out Mr. Fraser for the position of head of the party and opposition leader, said it was time for a fresh voice in the district.
“I have nothing against your current representative, who was with the VIP,” he told the crowd. “We love him, and I will never say anything bad about him, but there comes a time when you have to move on.”
Yesterday evening after Beacon press time, VIP candidate Dr. Natalio “Sowande Uhuru” Wheatley, a senior lecturer at H. Lavity Stoutt Community College, was scheduled to launch his Seventh District candidacy at The Stickett in Long Look. He ran unsuccessfully for an at-large seat in 2015 with the People’s Empowerment Party.