We are witnessing the potential collapse of our social, political, and economic systems in the US Virgin Islands, and we are now facing a crossroads in our history. Today’s choices will greatly affect tomorrow’s future. As uplifting as our progress has been, it has come at a heavy price. Many sacrifices have been made to bring us to this point, and we now face uncertainty. This uncertainty and instability is manifested in the breakdown of basic institutions of society, such as the family unit, and we are witnessing a perfect manmade storm. A lack of courage among our leaders to do the right thing, a worldwide economy that has been trashed, and energy costs in the territory that cannot be sustained. The result being an escalating crime problem, depressed economy, and a great sense of helplessness and hopelessness. Yet, in spite of this, we as Virgin Islanders have held on to our pride and self-respect, and we're ready for change, as our overall ethics and principles are now in question by we the people who have put our leaders in power.
Now the public demands accountability, transparency, and answers. As uncomfortable as it may be, we must all look in the mirror and recognize that those in power are a direct reflection of the collective votes from the community in which they serve. And I have taken a long hard look at myself, and acknowledge that it's easy to be a politician when things are going good, as opposed to being a statesman when things are going bad. And I have made the difficult, yet necessary decision to step up to the plate and run for Congress knowing the challenges that we are all facing today. With two decades in public life, I am not a stranger to the political scene and my record speaks for itself.
Let me share with you what can be expected of me as your Congressman:
- I will NOT over promise, and will tell it like it is.
- I will be proactive and will be thinking outside of the box--on this devastating energy issue, and which I will wrestle it to the mat, that which threatens to destroy the economic base of the Virgin Islands.
- I will use the office of Delegate to Congress to foster economic development. It will be my intention to create jobs for the people I serve, increase our tax base, and I will walk to the end of the earth to do so.
- My political style is to work to develop consensus and collaboration, but I will always put the Virgin Islands first.
- My support of any piece of legislation will NOT be based on my next election, but will be based on the next generation.
- I will be pragmatic in developing public policy and will NOT be looking to the extremes within the political system (whether Democrat or Republican), but will govern from the center understanding that politics is the art of compromise.
- As National Committeeman of the Republican Party, I'm ready to put the full power and prestige of this national position to work on the difficult issues that will face me as a Congressman, but my loyalty will be to the Virgin Islands first even if the Party’s national interests are in conflict with the Virgin Islands.
- I will utilize my position as Delegate to Congress to break down the barriers in the Caribbean region to push forward those common interests among our Caribbean neighbors.
- I will be accessible, and I will owe my allegiance to those who voted for me AND those that did not.
- I will create a liaison position between both Executive and Legislative branches, and their counterparts in Washington to coordinate territorial efforts in the Capitol.
- My management style is to surround myself with competency and people that compliment my mission. And my staff will reflect the diversity of this community, and when you see them--you will see yourself.
I've always held to the belief that the power of our diversity should be utilized to amplify our voices within the territory, and in Washington. And as such, it will be my mission to work with my counterparts to bring the territories (i.e., Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands) together to strengthen our common interests, whether African-American, Hispanic-American, or Asian-American.
I have never played ethnic politics – you have not seen it in the past, and you will not see it in the future – and if elected to Congress, it should be clearly noted that I will support the collective interests of ALL Virgin Islanders, irrespective of race, color, religion, or origin of birth. I personally understand that our most precious resource is our diverse and multi-cultural community, and my vision reflects and acknowledges the power of this as a strength that is inherent in our souls. Yet I'm not naïve to think that its also because of our diversity that at times we have been challenged to achieve consensus. But let us all recognize, we do not have to all like each other but we all have to love the Virgin Islands first.
I am a Republican, yet not in the most traditional sense. I am pragmatic. And as a Republican, I am a fiscal conservative with a strong emphasis on the need to enhance economic development throughout the territory, and putting jobs first and ensuring Virgin Islanders keep as much of their money in their pockets as possible. Hence, I have has always worked and will continue to empower Virgin Islanders in maintaining self-sufficiency and self-respect. In the area of social programs, I am moderate and value those opportunities that offer a helping hand (not a handout), and upward mobility to move away from dependency, get out of an adverse situation that people may find themselves in, particularly those in the dawn of life (children), individuals facing a crisis, or in the dusk of life (seniors). As the old saying goes, it’s better to teach a man to fish then give a man a fish.
When we look to our youth, its unfortunate that we cannot say with any confidence that this generation will do better than previous generations. And clearly its due to our own collective neglect. Its our fundamental responsibility for those that come after us to create an environment for their success, and clearly government cannot legislate themselves out of this, but as your Congressman, we will go on this journey together and recommit ourselves to our youth, our next leaders.
Its in these difficult economic times, that the need for help is far greater than any of us have seen in our lifetimes, and yet, I share the same sentiment as most Virgin Islanders do - the need to get up, get ahead, and move on as quickly (and as independently) as possible.
I have always recognized that just as in families and deep friendships, bonds must be established between members of our own Virgin Islands family, such as our government, the private sector, and our churches. We must all become ONE, allies in this war to survive. We can no longer accept the premise of “us” (native Virgin Islander) versus “them” (down islander, continental, or whatever). As we are an extended family, and our voice is much stronger when we look past our differences, and focus on our common goal – to be a united Virgin Islands, viewed as one people, one family, where we are recognized as a respectful and welcoming community.
My vision has at its core, conquering the problems we face through equity and opportunity for all – reinforcing the family unit, education, job opportunities, where we all can look to an enhanced quality of life. We must all come together to defuse the frustration and anguish felt by many of us, replacing them with a sense of empowerment, self-determination, pride and mutual respect.
I see the future for the Virgin Islands as a bright one, and it can only get better, even though we are at one of our darkest hours, it’s always darkest before the sun rises – and this too shall pass.