If Wednesday night’s Ninth District Electoral Debate proved anything, it might be that Virgin Islands Party (VIP) candidate Vincent Wheatley is a formidable contender for the seat, which is being sought after by at least two other candidates.
The debate saw a showdown among Wheatley, Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM) candidate Jose de Castro, and the National Democratic Party (NDP) legislator hoping to retain the seat for a second consecutive term — Dr Hubert O’Neal.
Dr O’Neal’s performance in the debate appeared to have done little to win over the heart’s of voters in the Ninth. The legislator’s delivery in the debate was generally lacklustre, largely unconvincing and, perhaps, has now left him wobbling on the edge of only serving a single term in office.
However, the NDP candidate might have earned some level of redemption during his closing remarks when he reminded residents of his accomplishments during his time in office.
Jose de Castro’s show in the debate possibly won him some headway in the race for the Ninth District seat. But, the political newcomer — while proving that he is rich with ideas — seemingly robbed himself of a clear victory by mostly staying on the offensive.
His focus largely seemed to be hinged on discrediting his challengers, particularly Wheatley. However, the PVIM candidate’s strategy might have earned him a small win when he submitted that Wheatley’s 11-year tenure as Sister Islands Programme Coordinator was virtually fruitless.
Meanwhile, Wheatley’s ability to fend off attacks, dish out rebuttals of his own, and still offer solutions and ideas distinguished him from his challengers during Wednesday’s debate.
Throughout the event, the VIP candidate demonstrated assertiveness, was interactive, and occasionally touched on topical issues popular with the community. And in what can be described as an unexpected move, Wheatley used his closing remarks to not only highlight his vision but also to single out one of his rivals — de Castro — as a Ninth District resident worthy of emulation.
Wheatley, however, faced a blow in the debate when Dr O’Neal successfully challenged his proposal to fund certain initiatives by instituting a local sector for marijuana export. Dr O’Neal underscored that the cultivation and use of marijuana are illegal in the BVI.
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