Home News Local news Meet a New Senator: Carlton Dowe

Meet a New Senator: Carlton Dowe

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Jan. 29, 2007 — Sitting behind his desk in early January, just days after getting sworn in, Sen. Carlton Dowe was still setting up his office even though it did not yet have a door or working telephone line.
In the midst of a little bit of chaos, however, Dowe still worked aggressively on his Senate agenda, planning to get involved with some old pet projects and introducing at least three new bills once the 27th Legislature gets up and running.
"Once you get out of the Senate, it's always difficult to get back in," Dowe said. "But I've always dealt with issues that touch people's lives, and I don't think anyone forgot that."
Although Dowe did not receive enough votes to make it into the 26th Legislature, he has been recognized for sponsoring such initiatives as the Supreme Court bill, which was signed into law in late 2004. Other capital projects have not yet come to fruition, stymied by a lack of resources and supervision. They include the creation of the Leonardo "Nardo" Trotman Drive, a road planned to offer residents an alternate route to the Tutu Park Mall and the Alvin McBean ballpark.
During the campaign season, Dowe erected a sign near the Edith Williams Elementary School, promising the roadway will be "coming soon."
"I'm not satisfied on the progress of this project," he said. "And I ran for the Senate again because I seriously believed that I still had a lot of things to accomplish, a lot of things that I needed to make happen. This is definitely one of those things."
Once again Dowe plans to work on a number of reforms that address long-standing issues in the departments of Education, Public Safety and Housing and Parks and Recreation. "One of the bills that I have already drafted will appropriate $1 million annually to the Board of Education so that we can offer full scholarships to anyone that wants to pursue a career in education," he explained. Another section of the bill will give local principals "more flexibility" on a daily basis in running their schools.
Other bills will create a witness-protection program within the Department of Justice; restructure the Department of Housing, Parks and Recreation; and mandate that the territory receive a portion of the revenues the federal government collects from the sale of local gasoline.
"The Organic Act states that we would receive a rebate on any product produced in the Virgin Islands and exported to the U.S.," Dowe explained. "We get up to 80 million in rum revenues, but, for whatever reason, we don't get a dime coming back on gasoline. I'm not saying that we should get all the money, but we could be using a portion of it to build new schools, new roads and new highways — really investing in our infrastructure."
As the head of the Senate's Rules and Judiciary Committee, Dowe will replace St. Croix Sen. Ronald E. Russell, who assumed the position after the Legislature was reorganized last January. Dowe plans to introduce reforms that place restrictions on exactly who can be nominated to serve on the territory's boards and commissions.
"We can't just send someone to serve on these boards and commissions because he or she might be a friend or political supporter," he said. "These individuals must come with a background; they must bring something relevant to the board on which they sit."
Dowe added that he will also try to end the practice of local commissioners serving on multiple boards: "Honestly, where are they going to find the time to do everything? We can't continue to have these boards laden with commissioners, and once I settle in, I'm really going to have the chance to look at this issue and figure out how to address it. It may require some changing of legislation."
While Dowe's said his days are currently "really hectic," he is still ready to deal with nominees once names are submitted by Gov. John deJongh Jr.
"I chaired the Rules Committee in the 24th Legislature, so one of the good things about this is that I don't have to feel my way around," he said. "Once the governor sends his people down, we're all prepared to act on them and act on them quickly. I don't have time to waste, and I respect the people's money."
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