After 10 years in the V.I. Legislature, Senator Roosevelt David is retiring from public service.
To mark the occasion, People for Progress is hosting a Lifetime Achievement Award Gala in the senator’s honor at the Marriott Frenchman’s Reef Resort in St. Thomas on December 1.
The organization will “pay tribute to this dynamic statesman as he retires from the Legislature of the Virgin Islands,” according to a prepared statement.
Seeing the completion of the Enighed Pond Marine Facility has been one of Senator David’s greatest accomplishments over the past 10 years, he explained.
Completion of Enighed
“Looking back, one of my greatest achievements is the fact that I was able to pass legislation for the completion of Enighed Pond,” David said. “The project had been talked about for four decades and was one of the things I had heard for years. Once I got into the legislature, I decided to have some focus on that and it’s really a tremendous accomplishment.”
“The fact that we were able to expand the Red Hook Ferry Terminal was a big project as well,” he continued. “Both of those important marine expansion project made us feel very good.”
The leap into politics wasn’t difficult for David, he explained.
“I believe that I was in politics before I knew I was in politics,” said David. “I have always been a person who wanted to help. I was always involved in community activities.”
David was active in the Pioneer Benevolent Society on St. John in the 1970s when he spearheaded movements to honor distinguished Love City residents like Sis Frank, Rodney Varlack and Roy Sewer.
“We honored a number of people for their contributions to the community and raised funds for scholarships for people from St. John who were going off to college,” Senator David said. “The group developed in a very big way and brought me to public speaking.”
David climbed the corporate ladder in the banking world before entering politics.
“When I joined the bank in 1973, I came up the ladder from a clerk to a senior vice president and I was able to see a lot of people,” he continued. “I had the ability to help expand the community by helping people secure loans to purchase homes and start various businesses. I came into contact with a number of people who felt my approach to my banking career was one of using my power to assist people.”
It took David a bit longer to throw his hat in the political ring, even with a little push from friends.
“A lot of people thought I should get into the arena of politics,” said David. “When I was appointed to a number of boards by then Governor Alexander Farrelly, my interest got sparked. I supported a number of senate candidates and then governors (Roy) Schneider and (Charles) Turnbull.”
“You could say that my political stock started to rise,” he continued.
There was one more push that finally resulted in David running for office.
“What really made me get into politics was a stint of 18 month when I was on the business development commission and I thought there was a void somewhere,” David said. “I thought with my personality and experience I could really reach out to people and help. I think I did that very well.”
The senator possessed a few important traits that made him perfect for a career in public service.
“So many people were pushing me to enter politics, but it wasn’t until I had the gut feeling that the time was right,” said David. “I was finally ready and I had a knack for what was happening and I knew how to work well with people. I am a consensus builder and that’s really what helped me.”
When starting out as a freshman senator, David had some “welcome to the legislature” moments.
“When I first into the legislature, I was trying to bring some focus from the outside,” said the senator. “I reviewed some legislation that was on the books. A lot of things I came to the table with had to be re-thought.”
“My thinking had to change,” David continued. “It was a totally different environment than I was used to. There were a number of people here, including the chief legal counsel and a number of veteran senators, who helped me when I was a freshman senator.”
When the time came, David was able to return the favor.
“Over the years, I was able myself to help a number of freshman senators,” said David. “I worked closely with Senator Louis Hill. I have always been there for him and mentoring him and showing him the ropes.”
“When you have information to share, it goes a long way,” Sen. David continued.
Universal Health Insurance
Although David will be leaving the senate on January 9, there are still a few things he would like to complete before he heads out of the office.
“There are two things in particular that I will be working on before I leave,” David said. “First of all I would like to see the universal health insurance bill passed. It’s been on hold for a while and I hope we get that through soon.”
“The National Guard Youth Challenge is my other project that I would like to see come to fruition before my tenure is over,” the senator continued. “This program would go a long way towards making our children more focused and productive.”
There are a number of avenues the senator can explore when he leaves office, and he remiss to commit himself to one goal.
Life After Politics
“I feel there are a number of areas where I could be of assistance,” said David. “I’ve always recognized that government can’t be all things to all people and there if life before and after public service. I’ll be working harder than ever and I won’t be slowing down at all.”
After 10 years of distinguished service, why is the senator leaving office?
“I’ve just decided to pack it up,” David said. “After you’ve made the sacrifice of serving the public, there comes a time when it’s time to step back.”
During his political tenure, David tried his best, he said.
Pleased with Support
“I want to thank my loyal supporters,” said David. “I don’t think everything I did was all they would have wanted. If I disappointed them, I really apologize, but I did the best I could and I believe the community has benefited from my service.”
“I’m pleased with the support and the mentorship that the community has given me,” David added.
For more information about David’s Lifetime Achievement Award Gala, call 693-3675.