This article was originally published in the Beacon’s print edition on Jan. 10.
A recently launched civic group called Reform Action Alliance plans to run four candidates in the upcoming general elections, but the organisation is clear: It doesn’t want to be known as a political party.
Cindy Rosan-Jones, one of the founding RAA members, described the group on Monday as the result of “like minds” coming together to meet and discuss issues facing the territory.
“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,” said Ms. Rosan-Jones, who is the events coordinator for the BVI Tourist Board.
The RAA is made up of 50 people who came together after ten months of meetings, focus group discussions and market research, according to a press release issued on New Year’s Day. Public relations consultant Sarah Graham, who issued the release, later clarified that the group includes both Virgin Islanders and non-Virgin Islanders.
For now, however, Ms. Rosan-Jones is the only person publicly tied to the RAA. None of the other 49 members or officers 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 explaining why other members have not been identified.
She added that she expects more people — supporters and members of the group’s committee alike — to come forward soon.
“We’re not hiding. Those who are comfortable to come forward, they’ll come forward,” she said.
The group, which Ms. Rosan-Jones said is currently in the process of registering as a non-profit organisation, aims to “act as a watchdog for the people of the Virgin Islands” and will both field and endorse candidates, the press release stated.
Ms. Rosan-Jones said she believes that too often politicians are more indebted to their parties than to the well-being of the territory.
“We want people to be able to stand on their own and if government is making a decision that, you know, you feel as a legislator would affect the country, you need to have the strength and the ability to stand on your own and say, ‘Look, this isn’t what I want,’” she said.
In recent months, two new political parties have joined the race alongside the National Democratic Party and the Virgin Islands Party: the Ronnie Skelton-led Progressive VI Movement and the Julian Fraser-led Progressives United.
But the RAA hopes to supplement the existing pool by adding its own four at-large candidates to the mix.
“We think that the opportunity to present stronger at-large candidates is there,” Ms. Rosan-Jones said, without mentioning any names. “And we do think that the districts have quite a few candidates that are good that we think that we can stand by and endorse.”
The group has not yet said which district candidates it will back, and Ms. Rosan-Jones said the RAA is still deciding how best to do so.
“We don’t want to offend people, but we also want to see some changes in our government and we think it’s possible,” she said.
The organisation has also not said who it will run at large. According to the RAA press release, those four contenders will be announced in “mid-January, once the House of Assembly is dissolved.”
Ms. Rosan-Jones clarified on Monday that if the House doesn’t dissolve by the middle of this month, her group will likely start rolling out candidates one by one.
“It’s not that we’re being secretive or anything,” she said, adding that she wants the public to get to know the organisation and what it stands for before announcing names. “And then when we put people forward, [the public] would understand why we made the choices that we made.”
Ms. Rosan-Jones also confirmed that there’s a chance she could be one of the at-large candidates.
“There is a possibility,” she said. “Anything is a possibility.”