Jan. 24, 2006 – Dressed in a red, white and blue shirt, the new president of the St. Croix branch of the Republican Party contemplated the responsibility of plotting a course for the party he is now charged with leading. "It's all about everyone achieving the universal dream," Edward L. Browne said. He explains the "universal dream" is the same as the "American dream"- that through hard work, courage and determination everyone can achieve prosperity.
Browne said his priorities for the party include advocating for housing community residents, education reform and increasing party support. He said with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in control of the housing communities, the residents should be enjoying a better quality of life. He believes people need to get involved in order "to make a change." He wants to increase local voter turnout and interest in the Republican Party. There are presently about 5,000 Republicans in the Virgin Islands, according to Browne.
Browne, 30, is a guidance counselor at the Positive Connections Alternative School. He holds a bachelors degree in Physiology and a Masters in Community Counseling from the University of Colorado. He said the territory should be in compliance with the No Child Left Behind Act and the party will be advocating for full compliance. He said he is in favor of the CFO legislation proposed by Delegate Donna M. Christiansen.
It's almost hard to imagine that not long ago Browne was an unknown in VI politics and in fact had never been involved in local politics at all. In Aug., 2004, Browne captured the attention of President George W. Bush and democratic presidential nominee John Kerry when he staged a 12-day hunger strike to focus international attention on the fact that Virgin Islanders and other U.S. citizens living in unincorporated territories don't have the right to vote for president of the United States. (See "St. Croix Man Gives up Food for the Right to Vote".)
In the midst of the 2004 presidential campaign Browne received a press release from both camps acknowledging his struggle. (See "Hunger Striker Hears from Bush and Kerry Camps".)
Soon after, Jim Oliver, Republican Party state chairman for the Virgin Islands, selected Browne to attend the convention as a delegate after one of the alternates cancelled. But the Republican National Committee tabled the V.I. Republicans' effort to put the rights of Virgin Islanders to vote for the president on the national agenda at a platform meeting prior to the event. (See"Hunger Striker Still Fighting the Odds".)
At that time, Oliver said Browne had a bright future in politics. "Mr. Browne is very refreshing, as a young man he feels that he can make a difference," Oliver said.
Browne has not abandoned his fight for the presidential vote.
"I continue to advocate for the presidential vote," Browne said. "That's my bread and butter issue." Browne said getting the presidential vote for people living in the territory is a "civil rights struggle." He said if Virgin Islanders are enlisting and giving their life in the service of their country they should have the right to elect their commander in chief. "It's just not right," he said.
He said the party will be offering candidates for the upcoming senate elections.
"We have several potential senatorial candidates," he said. Although he said it would be premature to reveal the names, "they must be viable candidates". He said, "They must be capable to address the issues and win."
Browne is still adjusting to his new responsibilities. He said that if anyone would have told him a year ago that he would be the president of the local Republican Party he would have had a hard time believing it. Now, he is focused on his goals and looking forward to better times ahead for his party.
He said, "My focus is being the best branch president I can be."
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