Former V.I. DOT Commissioner Richards-Samuel Eyes at-Large Position



Former U.S. Virgin Islands Tourism Commissioner Pamela Richards has put down some strong St. John roots since marrying the artisan Avelino Samuel, a scion of one of the most distinguished native St. Johnian families.
Now Pamela Richards Samuel is being asked to consider spreading her political branches to embrace her new home island.

After a St. John Tradewinds January article quoted current Senator at Large Craig Barshinger as confirming he did not intent to seek re-election and recommending Samuel as a potential candidate to succeed him, the newly-minted St. Johnian is doing some political thinking.

“After your article my phone started ringing off the hook with people telling me it is something I really should consider,” Samuel said

St. Johnians Compete

A number of St. Johnians have historically competed for the Senator at Large position, which requires campaigning on the “Big Island” of St. Croix and in the capitol, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas.
Sen. Barshinger earned the position through years of persistent groundwork and it will take a candidate with name recognition on all three islands to replace him.

While acknowledging recent St. John candidates for Senator at Large such as Ronnie Jones, Sen. Barshinger threw a new name into the conversation with a mention of Richards.

“I think Pam Richards Samuel would be a great candidate,” said Sen. Barshinger, who also mentioned former Commissioner of Licensing and Consumer Affairs Andy Rutnik as a potential candidate.

The honorable mention by Sen. Barshinger notwithstanding, it was a novel concept to the now-Mrs. Samuel.

“When I ran in 2010 (for Lt. Governor on a ticket with James O’Bryan Jr., (a two-term chairman of the Democratic Party of the Virgin Islands, former Senator, and Administrator of Saint Thomas and Water Island) people said I should run for Senator at Large, but I didn’t have St. John residency,” the former commissioner explained. “I was a Crucian.”

Now married to Avelino – renowned for his master woodworking – the former Commissioner of Tourism looks quite content selling their competing wares at a table in The Marketplace. She admits her collectible brightly-colored enameled pens are more to her style than her husband’s finely-crafted, wooden writing implements made of various native woods.

“He was a crush of mine in high school,” Samuel explains of her marriage to one of the island’s former most-eligible bachelors. “We went to CVI together. He had a girlfriend and I had a boyfriend at the time.”

St. Johnian by Marriage
Now that she is a St. Johnian by marriage, Samuel has to respect the island’s political pecking order with a handful of perennial candidates each with their own strong family ties to the little island such as Jones, Wilma Marsh Monsanto and Lorlei Monsanto.

 “I don’t want to have a public battle,” explained Samuel who is vice-chair of the USVI Democratic Party.
Meanwhile, Samuel is off to the St. Croix Ag Fair this week – fully aware of the significance of an election year appearance at the annual event.

“Isn’t that where all the politicians go?” she asked with her trademark smile – and a political twinkle in her eye.