Applicants for the position of Tourism commissioner are being interviewed by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull this week, and a decision on a nominee is expected "early next week," according to Government House spokesman Lee Vanterpool.
Government House did not release the names under consideration. However, Eric Dawson is one person whose name has been suggested.
St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association president Richard Doumeng said the organization "would welcome him with open arms."
Dawson, a former senator, was commissioner of the Economic Development and Agriculture Department in the Alexander Farrelly Administration, when Tourism still fell under that department.
Doumeng also said that as far as he knows, "no hotelier has been consulted for ideas or suggestions about filling the position." He added that the private sector has always been willing to offer the governor its expertise, an offer that has so far gone begging.
Finding and keeping a Tourism commissioner has been a major cause for concern in the territory since the Turnbull-James administration took office just over a year ago.
Turnbull first nominated Clement "Cain" Magras; the Legislature rejected his nomination after he was accused by an employee of sexual harassment. At that point Monique Sibilly-Hodge, assistant commissioner on St. Thomas, became acting commissioner.
The governor next tapped St. Thomas businessman Michael Bornn for the top post, and Hodge resumed her duties as assistant commissioner. After two months on the job, but before he was confirmed by the Legislature, Bornn was fired by Turnbull because of personal differences.
Sibilly-Hodge was again appointed acting commissioner; according to some legal authorities, the appointment expired Wednesday, Jan. 26, because the governor by law must fill the post within 90 days.
Vanterpool said Sibilly-Hodge's status now "depends on which scenario you are following." She has said repeatedly that she does not want the commissioner job.
According to Vanterpool, Turnbull is also interviewing candidates to fill vacancies on the Industrial Development Commission, the Port Authority board and the Public Services Commission. By law, the Tourism commissioner chairs the IDC, and the Port Authority board.
If Sibilly-Hodge is not longer IDC chair because she is no longer acting Tourism commissioner, the seven-seat IDC has just one current member in place, Claudette Farrington, who serves in her capacity as Internal Revenue Bureau director. For all six other seats, terms have expired.
Vanterpool said he hoped to have nominees to announce for the three panels early next week.


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