Just two Constitutional Convention delegates and eight St. John residents attended a Monday evening, July 30, Constitutional Convention forum hosted by St. Johnian Ronnie Jones, and St. John resident Paul Devine, who ran unsuccessfully for a St. Thomas-St. John District delegate seat.
The handful of residents who did attend cited frustration with not being recognized as a potential reason more people did not come out for the forum.
“I’m exhausted trying to go to meetings to get my voice heard,” said Bonny Corbeil. “There are too many meetings all the time and we’re just not being heard. I’m tired of coming to meetings and seeing no results.”
At Large Delegate Craig Bar-shinger has heard many different explanations from delegates not wanting to attend the forums, which Jones and Devine hosted throughout the month of July.
“Some delegates expressed concern and fear about what you’re doing,” Barshinger told Jones and Devine. “Nobody wants to be embarrassed.”
St. Thomas-St. John Delegate Elsie Thomas-Trotman, who attended the forum but chose to sit in the audience rather than at the delegates’ table, said she was there simply to listen and did not feel comfortable speaking for the other delegates.
Attendance Indicates Level of Interest
“Until we meet as a body, we can only speak for ourselves as individuals,” said Thomas-Trotman. “I can’t speak for the delegates. But I think it’s good you are keeping the public aware of what’s going on — we have to be guided by what the people want.”
The delegates may have a hard time learning what the public wants in the upcoming Constitution, however, due to the dwindling number of forum attendees.
“Look how few are here,” said one St. John resident. “It gives an indication of the level of interest.”
Despite the low turnout, Jones believes it’s important to continue to try to get the community to participate in the Constitutional Convention, he explained.
“We are trying to get people involved,” said Jones. “Our job is to keep the fire lit. We don’t want the community to say 10 years from now, ‘we weren’t a part of this.’”
Jones, who vowed at the previous forum to personally invite each delegate to attend, said he decided against this tactic, and instead hopes to focus on keeping a dialogue going in the community.
“I realized what we’re doing is not to try and win the delegates — we’re trying to keep the light lit in the community, and some dialogue is better than no dialogue at all,” said Jones. “I see it as a way to keep our delegates on St. John proud, because we’ve got something going on.”
Devine has received a wide range of responses to the forum, he told the audience.
“I’ve gotten e-mails saying maybe it’s best we suspend the forums until the delegates get the chance to meet,” said Devine. “I’ve also had people who tell me to keep it up, don’t stop.”
Municipal Government Hot Topic
Municipal government was the hot topic at the July 30 forum.
“The main reason I’m here tonight is because if we don’t get a municipal government, we’re never going to be able to solve the problems that have been going on the 25 years I’ve lived here,” said Corbeil.
Barshinger also cited municipal government as a topic important to St. John residents.
“The hot issue I’ve heard so far is municipal government and giving St. John more representation than it has now,” said Barshinger.
The Fifth Constitutional Convention, which was scheduled to convene on Monday, July 23, has been delayed due to a lawsuit filed by Harry Daniel, a St. John resident who contends election results show he should have been given a seat as aSt. Thomas-St. John delegate.
Jones and Devine plan to continue to host Constitutional Convention forums at the end of each month.
Consitutional Convention Delegate Contact Information
693-5000 (h) / 642-9955 (c)
St. Thomas-St. John District
Mario A. Francis
775-4048 (w) / 776-3761 (h) / 626-6127 (c)
Stedmann Hodge Jr.
Francis E. Jackson Jr.
776-1577 (w) / 998-0816 (c)
Myron D. Jackson
Clement “Cain” Magras
344-6209 (c) / [email protected]
Wilma Marsh Monsanto
643-0029 (c) / 774-4199 (h)
Thomas K. Moore
626-2673 (c) / 775-6728 (h)
Lawrence “Larry” Sewer
998-9713 (c) / 775-3695 (h)
Elsie V. Thomas-Trotman
Charles W. Turnbull
Arturo Watlington Jr.
Alecia M. Wells
776-1291 (w) / 776-6340 (h) [email protected]