The Speaker of the House of Assembly, Julian Willock’s, impartiality is being questioned based on his refusal to swear in NDP member Mark Vanterpool as the territory’s Fourth District Representative.
In a statement on public radio on Monday, Opposition Leader Marlon Penn described the Speaker’s position as “unfortunate” and urged him (Willock) to honour his recent pledge to be “fair, non-partisan, and objective” as the new Speaker.
Penn further argued that Willock not swearing in Vanterpool contravene’s the Virgin Islands Constitution and the wishes of Fourth District voters.
“The NDP’s position and that of Honourable Vanterpool is clear. It is also consistent with any legal interpretation of what transpired. But, most importantly, it’s consistent with the constitution of the Virgin Islands. There is no vacancy in the Fourth Electoral District. Honourable Vanterpool remains the duly elected and the current representative of the Fourth District and therefore there is no need for a by-election”
“I am therefore calling on the Honourable Speaker of the House of Assembly to take the responsible action, the just and equitable action, and honour his own pledge, honour the will of the people of the Fourth District, respect the constitution of the Virgin Islands and swear in Honourable Vanterpool to House of Assembly without delay so that we can all get on with the work that the people of this territory has elected us to do.”
Willock, in the meantime, has said he sent two notices to Governor Augustus Jaspert advising him that the Fourth District seat in which Vanterpool was elected is now vacant.
Constitution: Resignations must be addressed to Speaker
The Speaker sent those advisories to the governor based on Vanterpool’s March 5 resignation from representational politics. Vanterpool resigned a week before Willock was appointed Speaker of the House.
At the time, Vanterpool addressed his letter to the Clerk of the House of Assembly. He was subsequently informed that the constitution requires him to address his letter to the Speaker if his resignation is to be considered valid.
Vanterpool then changed his mind and decided to rescind his resignation. However, the Speaker maintains that he has accepted Vanterpool’s letter even though it was incorrectly addressed. Willock, a stark VIP supporter, is now encouraging the governor to call a by-election.
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