BVI News

COMMENTARY: A guide to elections, what to vote for

By Justin Blyden, Contributor

It is February 2019 and the merging of sustained macroeconomic forces complicate all aspects of the Virgin Islands experience. Climate change and resource scarcity raise questions of self-sufficiency, increased global regulations directly impact the Territory’s economic viability, while demographic and social changes challenge the very definition of a Virgin Islander.

The reliable patterns, habits and systems of the past are filled with cracks and now more than ever, the Territory is at a proverbial crossroad. Quite naturally, when presented with a decision, it is important to pause and consider a few things in order to make the best choice relative to the desired goal.

This process should include gathering information for weighing your options, considering the consequences, and assessing the alternatives. So with that short lesson on economics (of the Virgin Islands) and decision theory, my question is a simple one, where do we want to go? With election season upon us, I suggest that voters carefully consider the four points outlined below, before making the decision on which path to take.

The ‘what’

As a preliminary step, I would like to remind voters of the role of a legislator. The legislative, or law-making branch of government, is made up of legislators who work on making changes to existing laws or passing new legislation based on their constituents’ needs. Additional legislator duties include: creating policies, budgets and programs, and participating in debates on proposed legislation. Traditionally, for the most part, political dialogue in the Virgin Islands has revealed this glaring lack of understanding. If voters were acutely clear in this regard, we would be in a much better position to cut through all of the noise filling the air. Voters have to be very careful to hold the aspirations of the political candidates, against the purpose of the office that they seek to fill. Voters should not be enticed by well-intentioned ideas, which would actually be best owned and developed by entrepreneurs and other investors versus government itself.

The ‘who’ 

In as much as some might make it out to be a calling, we can agree that the role of members of the Virgin Islands House of Assembly and all the titles and positions therein are jobs/professions. Even those who are called, have to be equipped and prepared. We must accept, that much like any job, there are qualifications and requirements that should represent the ideal candidate. I recognize that the Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007 does not provide requirements beyond being “a Virgin Islander of the age of twenty-one years or upwards and otherwise qualified as a voter”, and I query whether or not that is enough. Beyond the limited guidance in the Constitution, voters should independently employ more proactive thought processes to determine what academic training, experience and skills are pertinent for the role, after all, we are electing persons to the highest offices in the land.  Consideration should not be about age, gender, friendliness, social status or who provides the most personal enrichment when trying to secure votes.

The ‘why’

In the Virgin Islands today, there are several political organizations and I wonder if the average voter can explain the fundamental policy differences between each party, beyond allegiance to an individual party leader. Do fundamental policy differences even exist? The voting public should know, and be able to articulate where each political organization and candidate stand on important hot button topics such as self-determination, the economy, taxation, women’s right, immigration, climate change and the role of the Virgin Islands in the global economy. Being told why you should not vote for the other person is not a policy. Clarity on fundamental policies gives a better idea of the governance that could be expected if a particular group of candidates are elected.

The ‘how’

Voters should stop allowing themselves to be swayed by empty and unsound promises, blindly believing in aspiring legislators almost as if they are the human embodiment of the fairy godmothers from childhood fables. It is neither logical nor productive, especially when the promises involve some potential that on its face, is clearly beyond the primary responsibility of government. Substance can easily be determined by asking one of three simple questions in response to promises made, “How”, “When” and/or “Why”. Voters must be willing to engage aspiring legislators at this deeper level.

So now I return to the crossroad, where I paused on this journey, standing between the past and options for the future. Where do you want to go? Serious themes have yet to be explored … are we British, American, Virgin Islanders or something else? Are we a services-based society or an agrarian-based society, can they co-exist? Are immigrants friend or foe? These and several defining matters are not questions for 13 elected officials to answer in four years; they have to be answered by everyone who claims the Virgin Islands as their own on a daily basis, for as long as we live. If you have not done so already, spend time to carefully craft your vision for these beautiful Virgin Islands, and on February 25, elect the persons best suited to carry out your vision. The decision is yours, and if you consider my suggestions, you now have a map to assist.

Justin J Blyden is a Virgin Islander currently employed as a tax manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP (New York, NY). He is an experienced business advisor who leverages a mix of business acumen and relationships to help companies meet strategic goals.  

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  1. Wow says:

    Excellent read, insightful and food for thought for every voter.

    Like 17
  2. BVI says:

    We need a coalition government between PVIM, PU and the 2 independents…LEH VIP AND NDP GO IN THE OPPOSITION WHERE THEY BELONG

    Like 12
    Dislike 16
  3. Nice says:

    Excellent Article Justin!

    Like 10
  4. Tell me says:

    What have you contributed to your home the BVI you went away to university you never came back only to visit and gone again tell me what have you contributed to the BVI

    Like 8
    Dislike 17
    • Read says:

      Did you read his article? Properly? If you have nothing good to say then say nothing !!! How many well known bvi landers spent thier younger years abroad then came home and made an impact! business men /women politions and the list goes on

      Like 16
      Dislike 2
    • @Tell me says:

      What have he contributed to his Country? Please take the time to read his article. Do you really realize how foolish and ignorant you sound? My son is also away at University. He comes back when he can.

      Like 6
      Dislike 3
  5. Benito Wheatley says:

    Mr. Blyden, this is a very timely and welcome piece. The public can gain from such insightful articles in the media. I encourage you to keep writing. Well done.

    Like 18
  6. Kevin Malone says:

    Justin, your words are spot on and very timely. Welll done on a great article. Whether home or abroad, it’s imperative for us BVIslanders to contribute our thoughts and solutions.

    Like 16
    Dislike 1
  7. Nice says:

    Good analysis leading to the question of what is or should be the role of govt, and what kind of a territory do we want to be.

    Like 10
  8. Awesome says:

    He has laid out why we should vote for the NEW NDP TEAM come election day!!! NDP ALL THE WAY for continued progress and prosperity! We will not make the same mistake as in 2007 by electing inexperienced persons to take the country backwards instead of forward.

    Like 3
    Dislike 20
  9. Awesome says:

    He has laid out why we should vote for the NEW NDP TEAM come election day!!! NDP ALL THE WAY for continued progress and prosperity! We will not make the same mistake as in 2007 by electing inexperienced persons to take the country backwards instead of forward.

    Like 3
    Dislike 14
  10. Proud says:

    “Justin J Blyden is a Virgin Islander currently employed as a tax manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP (New York, NY). He is an experienced business advisor who leverages a mix of business acumen and relationships to help companies meet strategic goals. ”

    Proud of this young man. Makes me wonder why so many people talk s**t like “None of us can go xyz place and be a senior etc. etc.” which is false!!!!

    Like 16
  11. Accra says:

    Very timely info indeed

  12. All that glitters is not Gold. says:

    In the Great USA, the most powerful country in existence, despite a couple splinter parties only has the Republican and Democratic Parties. Whichever party wins the government, Republican or Democrat, both men or women are from the same party; and makes for a smoother government operation.
    While calling for a Coalition form of government I beg to ask, what are the differences with the members of a party or of a coalition?. A big Fat Zero. None. In a party government each member hopes to some day in one way or another, rise to the top. Same in a coalition; but likely to be less likely; since there’s no real Loyalty and members are Free to mover on to the next Best Opportunity.
    Our last three governments, won by overwhelming numbers 11-2 in 2007 and 11-2 in 2011 and 2015.
    Thus there were only 2 members in the Opposition; a weak opposition (questions not being answered, a Speaker at liberty to often side with the ruling party, cockiness by government side, impossibility to gt through a “Motion of no confidence”; thus a lawless type of government with the belief that they were voted in with a Mandate.
    In everything let there be Balance. The problem with BVIs past 3 governments was a case of Imbalance. 11 on government side and 2 in the “Watch Dog” opposition. The Public Accounts Committee and Auditor General’s office are Oversight bodies, in place to support greater accountability, transparency and good governance.

  13. Sam says:

    we don’t need a another party call ndp to much bad money spend

    Like 4
    Dislike 1
  14. Raymon says:

    He sounds VIP to me. We are not going back to scandalous spending. We are not going back to lost financial records. We are not going back to any form of unaccountability. Free at last.

    Like 2
    Dislike 1
  15. Haha says:

    Thank you Justin!!! This is what most unbiased people have been saying all along. NDP wants us to vote for them because Myron is the great Gandalf. There is absolutely no good reason to vote for Alvera over John Samuel, Aaron over Arlene, Diego over Natalio, Marlon over Fahie, Carvin is head and shoulders over anybody in NDP at large list. NDP renewed Shereen’s contract for a reason. Vote NDP all the way for what. If we vote for the best candidates we’ll be fine but people going party because people nice, popular and are friendly. This is about running the territory not some dating game. We had a nice and friendly Premier and even his party members walked all over him. BVI Airways took him to school he settled all their debts then they left him a $7.2 million in the hole and they gone with the planes.

    Like 6
    Dislike 1
    • LMAO says:

      You must be smoking? Have you heard VIP lately? This is not a road march contest or festival, our future is at stake. The NDP as a team is far better than VIP. When it comes to atlarge candidates that all bring a set of skills to the table NDP beats them hands down.

      Like 2
      Dislike 4
    • Voter says:

      Dream on…

  16. E. Leonard says:

    Justin, good read and congrats on your success at PricewaterhouseCoopers,LLP. Timely Who-What-When-Where-Why-How guide prior to the 14,939 voters casting their votes on either 2/21 (early) or 2/25. To your template, I would add the 5 Whys, a technique for finding the root cause of problems.

  17. VIP says:

    VIP all the way

    Like 3
    Dislike 2

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