U.S. Virgin Islands voters mainly stick with incumbents

U.S. Virgin Islands voters mainly supported incumbents in Saturday’s primary election.

Those who went to the polls voted in the Democratic primary for governor, legislature, and a host of less prominent positions. The Republican party has no significant presence in the islands.

The winners will face independent candidates in the Nov. 8 general election. Five of the current 15 legislators are independents and the prior governor was an independent.

U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. won the Democratic primary for November’s gubernatorial election.

Incumbent Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. beat Democratic challenger Kent Bernier Sr., picking up 64.7% of the vote.

Elections for the legislature are held every two years with all seats up for vote. There are seven seats representing the southern island of St. Croix, seven seats representing the northern islands of St. Thomas and St. John, and an at-large seat.

In late July the legislature voted to remove Sen. Steven Payne Sr. from the body because of sexual harassment complaints and appointed Angel Bolques Jr. to serve out the final months of his term.

On Saturday 77% of voters voted for Bolques over Payne for the Democratic nomination for the at-large seat.

In the vote for the St. Croix Democratic slate, seven of the nine candidates advanced. Four of the seven are incumbents, one served in the legislature in the past, and two others have no background as legislators.

For the St. Thomas/St. John slate, seven of the 10 candidates advanced. Four of the seven are incumbents.

In the November gubernatorial election, Bryan will face independent Sen. Kurt Vialet, who currently represents St. Croix in the legislature.

Bryan’s platform includes keeping electricity rates from going up and increasing teacher and other government workers’ salaries.

Vialet, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is challenging Bryan’s handling of education and health care. He helped create the matching fund bond refunding that successfully sold in April.

According to the Bryan’s proposed budget, the islands had $569.7 billion of gross receipts tax bonds and $67.1 billion of grant anticipation revenue bonds outstanding as of April 30, 2022. The bond sale refinanced $955.5 million of the matching fund bonds.

Moody’s Investors Service rates the government Caa3.

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