With the myriad of issues facing Virgin Islanders, it is surprising how complacent our residents have become. These days few, if any, people come to Senate Hearings covering issues of importance to them, Board meetings where critical agency information is shared, or town hall meetings where public officials plan to conduct a dialog.
Ironically, things have become so relaxed that even Board members are now failing to come to their own Board meetings. A good example of this growing complacency is the recent Special Meeting of VI Joint Board of Elections scheduled for February 3rd on the island of St. Croix.
Although the meeting was scheduled at the request of two Board members residing on St. Croix and three additional members from the St. Thomas/St. John district, only one Board member actually arrived for the pre-arranged meeting. Making matters worse, this is the fourth time these elected officials have been unable to conduct business due to a lack of quorum. Since being elected there have been three meetings where no official business could occur.
Last fall prior to the territorial elections, the electoral process itself came under attack by voters who demanded the option to cast a paper ballot. Because the Election system had converted over to an electronic system, the demand to revert to paper ballots caused concern among forward thinking voters. The heated debate concluded in voters indicating that they wanted the election process to be reformed. In support of the reform idea, individuals mounted campaigns to win seats on the Board of Elections. Now, there is no action taking place because the very same individuals don’t come to meetings.
AARP VI agrees with the League of Women Voters. “Democracy is NOT a spectator sport.” We cannot afford to sit back and hope that the people’s business might get done. Individuals who run for office but fail to perform the duties and responsibilities of that office should not be tolerated by the voting public. During this time of economic hardship all Virgin Islanders should demand accountability and efficiency from the individuals they elected into office.
Virgin Islands voters must take interest and begin attending public meetings on issues that impact our community. If we continue our compliancy and fail to make an effort to get involved, get the facts, or provide input into the business of our community, then the day may come when we join many of the non-democratic nations where our involvement will no longer be welcome.
If you would like to stop sitting on the sidelines and become active in your community, telephone 340-713-2002 and become a member of the AARP Advocacy team. You will be surprised what a difference your involvement can make.