Speaker of the House of Assembly Julian Willock has said he has advised Governor Augustus Jaspert that the Fourth District seat is vacant.
Willock — who was appointed Speaker on March 12 — made the statement on Monday while making it clear that his “ruling” to accept Mark Vanterpool’s March 5 resignation “still stands”.
“I have advised His Excellency the Governor Mr Augustus Jaspert in writing on two occasions that there is a vacancy for representation in the Fourth Electoral District in the House of Assembly, as Mr Vanterpool followed through on his expressed intent and did not show up on 12th March 2019 to be sworn in as an elected member,” Willock said.
“I trust that Governor Jaspert will not allow the people of District 4 to go without a district representative for much longer. It was unfortunate that the people of District 5, following the passing of Honourable Delores Christopher, had to wait five months for a new district representative.”
“I know that the Governor values our democracy and the role it plays in good governance and improving the lives of our people, so we await a by-election date, which under the constitution, can only be called by him,” the Speaker added
There has been no clear indication of whether a by-election should be held since representative-elect of District 4, Mark Vanterpool, submitted a letter outlining that he wished to resign but later changed his mind.
According to the Virgin Islands Constitution, a letter of resignation must be addressed to the Speaker. However, there was none at the time Vanterpool submitted the letter. Vanterpool’s letter was addressed to the ‘Clerk’ of the House of Assembly and not the Speaker. As such, he maintains that his resignation was invalid and could not be reasonably accepted by the Speaker.
Governor Jaspert, in the meantime, said he would seek advice from Attorney General Baba Aziz. He further said he will only issue a writ for a by-election if he is formally notified that the seat is vacant.
The Speaker is responsible for notifying the governor of a vacancy.
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