Jan 18, 2005 – As the three new board members of the seven-member St. Croix Board of Elections Dodson K. James, Ana L. "Anita" Davila, and Humberto O'Neal, –were sworn in by Judge Marie Cabret, presiding judge of the Superior Court, on Tuesday morning, the feeling was positive.
Smiles and congratulations were in abundance from those attending such as John Abramson, supervisor of elections, and Rupert Ross, Jr., present board member.
However, there was an undercurrent. Several in attendance were wondering if they would be returning to the same courtroom under less pleasant circumstances the next morning. The question was going around, "Have you gotten your subpoena?"
Abramson said he had not gotten his, but others had and the court date was Wednesday at 10 a.m. in District Court. The board and Abramson are being sued by Carmen and Arnold Golden.(See "Golden Sues Board of Elections for Seat").
Before Cabret appeared, a court officer came out to ask how many people were going to be sworn in. Four seats were to be filled in November but one of those seats still remains in contention. (See "Board of Elections Results Challenged").
But the controversy did nothing to curb O'Neal's gratitude at being back on the board.. He said the board was one of integrity and he enjoyed serving on it. He served on the board from 1993 to 2002, lost one election and then won a seat back in 2004.
He said, in his experience, he has seen that most V.I. candidates run campaigns that are within the limits of the law. He said he saw the board's focus in the upcoming years as educating residents about the voting process. "Many residents just don't know what it is all about," he said.
According to O'Neal, policing campaign donation reporting is not the board's job.
He said the board's main responsibilities are to make sure its employee, the supervisor of elections, is doing his job and to enforce all stipulations under Title 18, including that candidates conform to the election calendar and reporting dates.
He said the St. Croix and St.Thomas/St. John districts generally agree in how those regulations should be enforced. However, he added, there is an ongoing debate on how close to a polling station electioneering should be permitted.
Mary Moorhead and Hope Gibson, two write-in candidates in the November election who are trying to replace Golden on the board, were not present. Nor was Golden.
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