Three candidates vying to be the next Ninth District Representative are set to square off in a political debate on Wednesday.
The debate kicks of at 7:30 pm at the Catholic Community Centre in the Valley on Virgin Gorda.
The participants are Dr Hubert O’Neal — the sitting district representative seeking re-election under the National Democratic Party — Virgin Islands Party’s candidate Vincent Wheatley, and Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM) candidate Jose de Castro.
PVIM’s deCastro said, if given the opportunity, he would push to eliminate the disconnect between the sister islands and Tortola, particularly where banking is concerned. One solution the political newcomer is proposing to address the district’s banking woes involves inserting a policy stating that banks looking to operate in the BVI must open a sister island branch.
Wheatley, in the meantime, told BVI News that he intends to tackle the district’s high unemployment rate, their banking woes, and the use of alternative energy.
On the other hand, Dr O’Neal, who was recently appointed Junior Tourism Minister told this publication recently that his intentions for the district involve using his new post to improve the tourism product in the constituency. Dr O’Neal blames the 2017 disasters and the subsequent closure of major Virgin Gorda resorts as the reasons he failed in delivering many of his campaign promises in the last General Election.
Debate organisers Sasha Flax, Trevor Bridgewater, Shea Alexander, Rea Vanterpool, Adrianna Soverall and Akeem Lennard said they moved to host the political event because they believe plans to build the Ninth District should be “based on reason, regardless of political affiliations”.
“The voting public should be aware of its options and conscious of respective ideas to then decide the best fit for upward mobility thus the call for the debate,” a media release from the debate organisers said.
The debate will allow for each candidate to present opening and closing statements. It will also include a question and answer segment.
Participants will be allotted two minutes to make their presentations and another three minutes to answer questions that were submitted prior to the debate.
The three men will also be required to respond to questions from social media
“Each candidate will be asked one question before moving along in sequence. All responses in the form of rebuttals will be allowed if desired by one candidate per question for a maximum of one minute. Candidates will give closing statements within a minute and a half each,” the release further said.
The debate will be broadcast live on social media and will be accessible via a Facebook page called ‘Representing the 9th’.