Nov. 19, 2004 Sen. Louis Hill will take the gavel as president of the 26th Legislature in a newly formed Democratic majority, the Source learned Friday.
Though no official word has come out on the majority, an informed source said a meeting of the nine Democratic senators was held Thursday on St. Croix. According to the source, Hill beat out Sen. Lorraine Berry for the top spot on a 6-4 vote with Hill's four St. Thomas colleagues Sens. Berry, Roosevelt David, Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg and Shawn-Michael Malone voting against him.
The other Democrats are Senator-elect Craig Barshinger, in the at-large seat; St. Croix Senators-elect Pedro Encarnacion, Neville James, and Juan Figueroa Serville; and incumbent Sen. Ronald Russell.
Russell will take the vice-president's seat and James will be majority leader, the source said, and another meeting is scheduled for Monday where further appointments will be made.
Berry did not return calls Friday. Other senators contacted made no commitments as to what had transpired, other than confirming they had attended the Democrats' meeting, and that they will meet again early next week.
There has been speculation that the Democrats might splinter in favor of forming a St. Croix coalition. If Barshinger should join the non-Democratic senators, they would have an eight-member majority.
Sen. Usie Richards said at a Team St. Croix Senatorial Conference at the Cormorant Beach Club in Christiansted Wednesday that he has spent two years trying to get this unity between the community and the senators. He said, "We can work in unison. The people of St. Croix have elected eight of the 15 senators." (See the St. Croix Source story "Team St. Croix, Senators Agree, But Without Contract").
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