What the Candidates Say: Why Are You Running, Why Should Voters Choose You?

The flag of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The flag of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In this series, the Source introduced the community to the platforms of the candidates for governor and gauged their approaches to issues in the territory. The Source sent each gubernatorial team a set of questions earlier this summer and ran the answers in the order in which each candidate responded. The Source invites comments on these articles, in the hopes of creating a dialogue among voters. This story covers all of the candidates’ answers to the sixth and seventh questions to allow for easy comparison across candidates. The answers below are ordered per the ballot position of each candidate.

The Source: Why are you running and why should voters choose you instead of another candidate?

1 – Kenneth E. Mapp
We are running because we believe in the limitless potential of the United States Virgin Islands and in our ability to continue to propel this territory and its people forward. We have worked hard and can stand firmly on the proof of our ability and commitment rather than on empty promises: private and public sector salaries are up; 20,000 more Virgin Islanders are now eligible for health care; the refinery is now set to hire 1,200 temporary and 700 permanent workers; USVI bonds have rebounded and efforts are currently underway to transform our electric grid, harbors, ports and roads. We have worked to get funding approved for four new schools, new hospitals and other public buildings.

Continuity of leadership has never been more important as we embark on this complex, multi-layered $8.5 billion recovery. The relationships and partnerships we have fostered are unique and have heightened the national profile of the Virgin Islands. We have an incredible amount of infrastructure on the table right now and any disruption risks setting our recovery and rebuild plans back by years. We are rebuilding stronger and smarter; and we are, without question, moving forward.

2 – Adlah “Foncie” Donastorg
Mr. Donastorg did not supply answers to What The Candidates Say questions.

3 – Soraya Diase Coffelt
There are many teams in the race for governor/lieutenant governor. Soraya and Dwight (running mate Dwight Nicholson) share similar reasons for running. We both want to take self-service out of public service. Additionally, we are tired of more than one-third of our children not reading to grade level by the end of third grade; the low number of career and trade skills classes in the public schools; and the lack of hope for our youth. We are extremely frustrated by the same old politics and policies that prevent life from getting better for the people of the Virgin Islands. We are not slick politicians, but regular people, just like everyone else. We have the character, passion, vision, and the V.I. FIRST Plan to make us the No. 1 place in the Caribbean to live, work, and visit.

We are going to transform the government, change the culture within it, and run it more customer/people focused, serving the needs of the people of the territory and rebuilding trust among potential investors. When we do this, our economy will start to grow and we will all share in the benefits of this renewed growth. We have some very hard work to do, and we need to stop with the talk and empty promises and get things done.

Without a vision as to where we are going for the next decades, we cannot achieve the true transformation that we need to achieve. A leader must have a vision for the islands. Soraya studied Chinese business and law in China for five weeks in 2016 and she has seen how a leader with a vision can have such a tremendous impact. She learned that China’s leader in 1990, Deng Xiaoping, set a vision for Shanghai – he said that if China was a dragon, Shanghai was its head. He set a goal to have Shanghai become the rival to Hong Kong and be the most important commercial center in Asia. It did become that, as it has its own stock exchange, has seen tremendous economic growth and modernization, and is the most important industrial base in the nation. It is known as the Paris of the east with its unique charm and culture.

Similarly, we have a grand vision to lead the Virgin Islands into the next decade of 2020 – transforming the Virgin Islands into the economic powerhouse and leader in the Caribbean. We have the private sector experience to successfully implement the V.I. FIRST plan and build expert teams that will assist us to operate the government and accomplish goals on time, on budget and right the first time. We are servants of the people and will place their interests first for a change. We will transform the government to work for them and not the other way around.

4 – Janette Millin Young
Our team seeks to provide a new vision for our territory and unite our diverse society into a new Virgin Islands that is prosperous, dynamic, and productive. Many in our community have simply given up hope for a more caring, attentive, productive and fair government. We will inspire our community to work closer together, improve customer service and workforce morale. As leaders, we will set a better example for managing our government revenues and other resources.

We bring a unique mixture of skills, ideas, and energy to the political system. We are most fit to lead. We both have extensive experience in the business sector in media, telecommunications and contracting. Before being elected as a senator, I worked in the offices of two former governors in media relations which gave me great insight into the work of the highest office in the territory and how departments should work to best meet the needs of our people. Bengoa (running mate Edgar Bengoa) has felt the pain many of our small businesses are currently facing such as difficulty in obtaining business licenses and heavy taxation. We know what it takes to grow our economy so that more, rather than less, will ease the burden of taxes for the few who currently bear it.

5 – Albert Bryan
I love these Virgin Islands and care about our people. Too many Virgin Islanders feel left behind and abandoned by this government. With the shrinking middle class and ongoing out-migration from the territory, income inequality is growing at alarming rates. Fortunately, we have the talent amongst us to reverse our course. I believe I can provide the leadership to modernize our government and instill a renewed sense of purpose. My mission is to provide a higher standard of living and quality of life for all Virgin Islanders. My work is to create a Virgin Islands for all of us. I sincerely believe the Bryan/Roach (running mate Sen. Tregenza Roach) team is the best one to get this accomplished.

My decision to run for governor was not a last-minute decision or driven by personal animosity towards the incumbent governor. It has been a carefully considered decision based on my strong desire to transform our government into a more efficient and effective instrument of progress. Aspiring to the position of governor is a responsibility that I take very seriously. It is a position I have diligently prepared for well through my education and experience in both the public and private sectors. Most importantly, I have a clear vision for what we can achieve over the next few years to promote a better quality of life for Virgin Islanders and a definitive plan to get us there.”

6 – Moleto A. Smith Jr.
I’m running for governor because of my deep and abiding love for the people of the Virgin Islands and my burning passion to improve the quality of life for all of us.

I strongly believe that regardless of your age, ethnicity, religion, gender or place of birth, if we call the Virgin Islands home, then we deserve a government that is efficient, trustworthy, works to help everyone in the Virgin Islands make their dreams come true, and most importantly, treats each of us with respect and dignity. I’m running because I believe that we deserve the best and that we can do better!

The upcoming elections is about three choices for voters. Either (1) we go back to the not-so-distant past and bring back political types who, throughout their careers, enabled the deterioration of the territory and did little to improve the quality of life; or, (2) we keep status quo which to most people isn’t a feasible option; or, (3) we find a better fit with a proven history of accomplishments and the proven ability, competence, character and integrity to execute in order to make sure that millions, if not billions, of dollars in federal funds are appropriately spent and not returned to the federal treasury because of a failure to execute, which has been case year-in and year-out.

Voters should vote for me instead of another candidate because I am the best fit and exactly what is needed to lead the territory at this critical time in our history.

As the current CEO of the largest private community health center corporation in St. Thomas/John, serving approximately 8,000 persons annually, through a staff of approximately 100 persons, I am keenly in tune with the pulse of the community, the day-to-day struggles, concerns and the ongoing and emergent needs of the people. In this role, services such as oral and mental health, innovations in care coordination have expanded in significant ways, in addition to the dispensing of millions of dollars of emergency medication and medical supplies to over 3,000 survivors in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria to present.

I am a highly sought after and accomplished senior executive and community leader with over 30 years experience in government operations, health care, human services, legislative and organizational analysis, budgeting and emergency management, and extensive experience with federal funds compliance and all facets of emergency management and preparedness.

I possess over 20 years of success with federal and inter-governmental relations, across the public, private and not-for profit sectors, 16 years of which was as interim, acting and deputy commissioner of the Virgin Islands Human Services Department, overseeing the operations of the second largest V.I. government agency, with a staff of approximately 1,000 employees and an annual combined operating budget of federal and local funds in the excess of approximately $100 million.

I am a graduate of the University of California, Irvine; the recipient of several national and international recognitions and affiliations such as Rotary International, American College of Healthcare Executives, and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. I served on numerous community boards including AARP, the V.I. Head Start Program, V.I. Partners in Healthy Communities and Big Brothers/Big Sisters; served as past president of United Way; currently serve as president of the League of British Virgin Islanders, and as current invited member of the Clinton Foundation Global Post Hurricane Recovery Action Network.

7 – Warren Mosler
As a matter of conscience to promote my platform. They should vote for me if they’d like to see my platform implemented.