Island Councils is the missing ingredient of the Virgin Islands Government. Our present centralized government fails to include the people in the decision making process. Our people have become so disenfranchised by our government that we only watch with apathy and disgust as our Governor and Senate fail to govern our islands effectively.
With Island Councils on each island, each island can help to steer and manage our future through active participation of our community. By establishing such a council, we can empower our community to democratically solve our own problems and to develop policies and programs to implement solutions. Working together for a common goal of improving the quality of life on each island through the use of Island Councils.
The Town Council founders saw that every community has a wide spectrum of opinions and goals regarding the community’s future. Such Councils provide an incredible mechanism for communities to gather, discuss, debate and to reach a consensus for their community’s future.
Island Councils must be open to all sides of an issue without bowing to special interests. Unlike the Senate’s all too often power struggles, the Council’s strength lies not in which individual can shout the loudest, but who can gather the largest numbers with a united voice.
The main problem with our present system of government is that the people are not part of the decision-making process. We are asking our Governor and Senate to micro-manage every aspect of every issue of each island, an impossible task.
Our Governor and Senate need to focus on territorial issues, issues with the federal government, working with the economy and island budgets, to establish new business and tourism. We need each island to operate within its own budget, which will remove many of the animosities between islands fearing one island gets more than the other.
Other than hearing an occasional appeal, the Legislature and the Governor will allow the islands to run themselves. Most of the effect of the Territorial Government will be through the Territorial Departments which will be present at most of the Island Council sessions. An Island Council will provide accessibility between the communities and those departments.
There is an effort afoot to consider changing the Senate to Geographic Districts and Numbered Seats. Let’s be very clear that redesigning, cutting up, or any other change to the same 15 or 9 individual Senators is still not a solution. Just what is the significance of these maneuvers?
It won’t bring the Senators any closer to the people, you will still have Senators with very limited exposure to the will of the people. These Senators leave their homes, go to the Central Government and rarely know the needs of the people or the individual islands. They won’t be any more accountable, and they won’t be any more accessible than they are now.
With Island Councils you have a mechanism for the people to relate to the government, with districting and numbered seats, you will still have our Senators sitting in their private offices doing only what they wish.
“The best government is that which is closest to the people.”
The Committee for Island Council