Sen. Jackson Bows Out of 2020 Election

Sen. Myron Jackson chairs Monday's meeting of the Committee on Culture and Planning. (Photo by Barry Leerdam for the V.I. Legislature)
Sen. Myron Jackson chairs a meeting of the Committee on Culture and Planning in 2019. (File photo by Barry Leerdam for the V.I. Legislature)

Four-term Sen. Myron Jackson of St. Thomas announced Tuesday that he will not seek re-election this year.

“It is with a heavy heart that I have decided not to pursue re-election for a seat in the 2020 senatorial race. The impact of COVID-19 has transformed the world and our lives to unprecedented proportions, such that our daily existence and our way of life has required change … what is called ‘The New Normal,’” Jackson said. “In this regard, I have deeply evaluated what this requires of me in serving my family and beloved community.”

Jackson began his first term office in 2013 in the 30th Legislature. He served as legislative secretary of the 31st Legislature, president of the 32nd Legislature, and is vice-president of the 33rd Legislature. He presided over the Legislature through recovery after the two category 5 hurricanes struck in 2017.

The history and culture of the U.S. Virgin Islands have been a lifelong passion for Jackson. As senator, he spearheaded execution of the official ceremonies for the 2017 Transfer Centennial and the 2019 Year of Return: Ghana/Emancipation Day, as well as working with the Smithsonian Institution to preserve and digitize the Legislature’s historic journals dating back to the early 1900s.

Jackson also pushed for legislation creating an official territorial curator, to oversee government-owned art and antiquities.

He worked for nearly three decades at the State Historic Preservation Office and directed the V.I. Cultural Heritage Institute before running for elected office in 2012. He also helped to bring about the development of several historical projects, such as the revitalization of the Rothschild Francis Market Square on St. Thomas and the Sunday Market “Times Square” on St. Croix.

“I have determined that after 40 years of public service – eight of those years which have been spent as one of your elected senators in the halls of the Legislature of the Virgin Islands, I will step down and defer my advocacy to advancing community projects,” Jackson said in a statement Tuesday. “It has truly been a life-changing and rewarding experience serving you at this laudable institution. No one said it would be an easy task, however through it all I have loved the privilege and honor you have given me to serve you in the first branch of government.”

He said that not being a politician and entering the Senate arena came with many challenges, saying that through it all, “I came to truly love the institution, its purpose, and the function it serves in the daily lives of our people and territory. The opportunities afforded me by my colleagues to serve in various leadership capacities, the development of policy, the passage of legislation, the interfacing and collaboration with colleagues and leaders at home, nationally and internationally, have been the most rewarding experiences of my professional career.”

His successful legislation includes Act No. 7659 (Bill No. 30-0418), establishing the Virgin Islands Sports Policy; Act No. 8169 (Bill No. 32-0237), a Transfer Upon Death policy to assist seniors; Act No. 7736 (Bill No. 31-0055); toward developing Fruit Processing Plants for the territory; Act No. 8153 (Bill No. 32-0308) establishing the Division of Festivals under the Department of Tourism; and Bill No. 33-0093, establishing a St. Thomas Capital Improvement Fund. He looks forward to advancing additional measures through this term.

“I would like to thank the voters, constituents, well-wishers, my critics, colleagues, family and friends for your unceasing support, and prayers. I will always consider and hold dear to my heart my service to you and the first branch of the Government of the Virgin Islands as the pinnacle of my career,” Jackson concluded. “United In Pride And Hope … God bless the Virgin Islands.”

Jackson is the second incumbent senator to announce they would not seek reelection this year. Sen. Alicia Barnes, the freshman senator for St. Croix, announced she was dropping out earlier in May.