Senate Turnover: Sanes Plans to Continue Public Service

Sen. Sammuel Sanes (File photo)
Sen. Sammuel Sanes (File photo)

Sen. Sammuel Sanes is one of nine V.I. senators leaving the Legislature this week, a 60 percent turnover in the 15-member body.

He joined Allison Petrus on a gubernatorial ticket in the 2018 governor’s race. They finished second in the Democratic primary.

But though the campaign took him out of the Legislature, Sanes said he plans to continue serving the community when he leaves the Senate in January.

“They asked me to run (for lieutenant governor) and I thought I could take a break and see what else I could do in public service. I have no regrets,” Sanes told the Source.

During his three terms in the Senate, Sanes twice served as secretary to the Legislature, senate vice president once and sat on most of the committees. He finished this year as the majority leader and chair of the Energy and Environmental Protection committee. Sanes said those years expanded his horizons.

During the time, he also became more cynical, especially with “the sluggish movement forward” of the government body. The overall bureaucracy of the V.I. government is “a shame and disservice to the people of the Virgin Islands,” he said.

After naming well-known failings of the government, Sanes said he was still heartened by the 2018 election, especially the participation of young voters. He also feels very positive about the new Legislature and thinks they will be able to involve the private sector in helping more the territory forward.

Sanes offered some advice to freshmen legislators. He hopes new senators will listen and dialogue with experienced senators and begin immediately to build a good relationship with the Executive Branch.

“It’s important to put aside egos and work as one. Everybody brings something to the table,” he said

Asked what bills he felt good about having his name on, he named some that passed and a few that didn’t. Laws against gangs and human trafficking were good, he said, but the Senate didn’t pass legislation to separate the Justice Department from the Executive Branch nor to combine certain departments of the territory’s two hospitals.

“I wanted to right-size them to eliminate redundancy,” he said about his hospitals bill.

Sanes was born in New York and raised on St. Croix. He served in the U.S. Navy before earning degrees in public administration, legal studies and a master’s degree in educational counseling. He served with many community organizations, for which he received recognition and awards, and was named Senator of the Year twice by a local media outlet.

Before serving in the Legislature, Sanes worked for a V.I. Behavioral Services and the V.I. Labor Department. He said he is still interested in those areas and would willingly work for the new administration, using his skills and knowledge. He feels his interests are multi-faceted, allowing him to continue working for the people of the Virgin Islands.

Until then he is happy to complete some “honey-do” projects at home.