Writing V.I. Constitution Requires Consensus

Dear Fellow Delegates-elect,

Good day to all. The swearing-in is finally at hand.

As an at-large delegate, I have thought long and hard about how I will vote in terms of convention leadership. St. Croix and St. Thomas-St. John have each proposed a leadership slate. And it looked like the voting was split right down island-district lines, 15/15.

Recently, however, I understand that one of the St. Thomas-St. John delegates has agreed to vote with the St. Croix delegates for the St. Croix-based slate. The remaining St. Thomas-St. John delegates speak of voting en bloc against the St. Croix-based slate.

This is the wrong way to start a convention which must focus on compromise and consensus by its very nature!

I will withhold my vote from any leadership proposals that so wholly ignore the basic method by which the convention may succeed.

Instead, I will support an idea advanced some months ago that we share the convention leadership between the two districts.

Simply put, the first half-year of the convention will be led by the St. Croix slate and the second half-year will be led by the St. Thomas-St. John. Or vice versa; if necessary we will choose the order by drawing lots or the toss of a coin. (The sticking point is the presidency; there are members of both districts on both of the slates.)

If we agree to this, the leadership resolution can be adopted unanimously. Is it not better to start with unanimous consent than with a 16/14 split?

The Constitutional Convention is not the legislature. There are a lot of power-plays that go on in the legislature, and it can function nonetheless. Writing our constitution requires consensus, with two-thirds majority to approve the draft constitution that we then send to the people of the Virgin Islands for ratification.

I urge you, my fellow delegates, to choose the shared-power proposal, and get off on the right foot with this historic task, that of writing our Virgin Islands Constitution. Please contact me if you support this so that we may draft the appropriate resolution, for adoption on Monday, October 29.

Craig Barshinger
Fifth Constitutional Convention