It’s Time for Island Council Government

0
383

Editor,
Many islanders are complaining that outsiders are taking over the island, which is rightly so. If we have an island council similar to the following, the people of St. John would be in charge.

This movement seeks to establish an elected St. John Council for the purpose of providing St. John the greatest autonomy and self-government possible; to encourage citizen participation and involvement in the decision making process for the island; to safeguard the well-being of all inhabitants with the highest value on the good of the entire community; and to set forth a framework for the future growth and development of the island while protecting both its fundamental identity and its future economic vitality.

This movement advocates a council/mayor form of government with an elected mayor and councilors, and the hiring of an Island Manager and Island Administration. All meetings of the council would be open to the public.

A St. John Council, or home rule, is needed to bring the people of the island into the decision making process with an open and accessible government by which everyone can participate; to develop a master plan for the island; and to manage the operations of the town, and work with territorial department heads.

All seven members of the Town Council must be residents of St. John and be elected by the voters of the island.

The council will be made up of seven councilors, all elected to office by the voters. The seven councilors will consist of a mayor, a mayor pro-team and five councils.

The Charter is a framework of the functions and powers of the council. It is the rule book that the council operates from and this is public information. The Charter can be changed or amended as needed by the council.

In a way, the Island Council is a quasi-municipal government which works with the central governmental departments. The difference is that the Island Council will determine how they will function for St. John. We still use the same departments, but have a better control and say over what is needed.

The governor and legislature will work on territorial issues and allow the Island Council to manage the island.
The Island Council and the V.I. National Park will have better communication, better goals, better funding through co-ordination an cooperation, and better partnership.

Those elected to the council will truly represent the people of St. John better than one shared senator who is more beholding to St. Thomas and St. Croix than St. John.

No person seeking to be a candidate for a position on the Island Council may run for the office as a Democrat, Republican, ICMer, or any other political party. The council has to be a politically-free zone. The goal is to work only in the best interest of the island.

As it is believed that we have only lacked the vehicle to get people involved, the council will work to bring the people into the workings of government.

The legislature and the governor will allow the council to perform their duties without interference. If a ruling by the council is taken to an appeal by any party on any matter, however, the legislature and a vote by the governor will settle the requested appeal.

The Island Council will have full rights to all information of monies reaped by the territorial government from St. John like property taxes, gross receipts, hotel tax, etc. The council will work with the territorial Finance Department on what the budget for the island shall be on a yearly basis.

Because most of St. John’s registered voters are either native Virgin Islanders or long-term residents, they will have the biggest voice. They will be empowered to shape the island, to elect candidates that they feel will best represent them, to have access to regular council meetings, to develop a greater community spirit, and to have a voice in the future.

For more information regarding the Island Council, contact the St. John Community Foundation at 693-9410 or check out the Web site at www.stjohncouncil.com.

Norm Gledhill
Coral Bay Resident