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33rd Legislature’s Majority Announces Hierarchy of Incoming Senate Members

CHRISTIANSTED – “Restoring Unity and Trust Through Vision and Purpose” is the motto and the mission of the 33rd Virgin Islands Legislature’s newly formed 11-member Democratic Majority Caucus, Senators and Senators-elect said today.

The new Majority Caucus has selected St. Croix Senator-elect Kenneth L. Gittens as its President and St. Thomas incumbent Marvin Blyden as Majority Leader.

Newcomers and top vote getters Donna Frett-Gregory of St. Thomas and Alicia V. Barnes of St. Croix have been named as the 33rd Legislature’s Vice President and Secretary respectively.

A news conference was held at WTJX in Estate Richmond this morning to detail the planned structure of the 33rd Legislature, which will be formalized at the first Legislative Session following swearing-in ceremonies on January 14, 2019.

Blyden said the 11-member majority would base its agenda on the principles that characterize the Democratic Party – affordable healthcare and housing, quality public education, and concern for the needs of seniors and the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our community.

“Today we reaffirm our commitment to those principles and to you, the people of the Virgin Islands,” Blyden said. “Further, we recognize that last month, the Virgin Islands public sent a clear message. The old ways cannot continue, and we must forge a new covenant with the people of the Virgin Islands—a covenant based on transparency, unity and putting the people first.”

Gittens said the Democratic Majority was committed to enhancing the public’s trust in the Legislature.

“In addition to the development of important public policy initiatives, the body will maintain robust oversight of the new Administration,” Gittens said. “It is our intent to reestablish the Legislature as the first branch of government, co-equal, but separate and apart from the Executive and Judicial branches.”

Caucus members pledged to work hand in hand with all the members of the 33rd Legislature, as well as Legislative staff, Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett and the Governor-elect Albert Bryan and Lieutenant Governor-elect Tregenza Roach.

“We have held several meetings to organize our caucus and formulate our legislative priorities,” Gittens said. “We are a body of individuals eager to provide both oversight and direction. Most of my colleagues campaigned on the need for reforms and I anticipate nothing less than their assertive action on behalf of the people of this Territory.”

Blyden and Gittens said that the Democratic Majority Caucus worked hard to match senators with committee assignments that served to maximize the group’s skills and experience.

“We trust that all of those elected to the 33rd Legislature will play important roles in our deliberations as we certainly have our work cut out for us,” Gittens said. “We look forward to a very productive term. Our agenda is ambitious, but achievable.”

The officers and members of the Majority Caucus of the 33rd Legislature are as follows:

Senator-elect Kenneth L. Gittens – President

Senator-elect Donna A. Frett – Gregory – Vice-President

Senator-elect Alicia V. Barnes – Secretary

Senator Marvin A. Blyden – Majority Leader

Senator-elect Oakland Benta – Liaison to U.S. Dept. of Interior/Insular Affairs

Senator-elect Allison L. DeGazon – STX District Liaison to U.S. Congress

Senator-elect Stedman Hodge Jr. – Liaison to the White House

Senator-elect Athneil J. Thomas – Secretary for Intergovernmental & Territorial Affairs

Senator Myron D. Jackson

Senator-elect Javan E. James

Senator-elect Steven D. Payne Sr.

The 33rd Legislature’s proposed leadership and standing committee assignments are as follows:

(1) COMMITTEE ON RULES AND JUDICIARY

Chair:               Alicia V. Barnes

Vice Chair:      Myron D. Jackson

(2) COMMITTEE ON FINANCE

Chair:               Donna A. Frett-Gregory

Vice Chair:      Allison L. DeGazon

(3) COMMITTEE ON HEALTH, HOSPITALS & HUMAN SERVICES

Chair:               Oakland Benta

Vice Chair:      Stedman Hodge Jr.

 (4) COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

Chair:               Stedman Hodge Jr.

Vice Chair:      Kurt A. Vialet

(5) COMMITTEE ON YOUTH, SPORTS, PARKS AND RECREATION

Chair:               Javan E. James

Vice Chair:      Athneil J. Thomas

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy has been reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Caribbean region since 1989. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is originally from Detroit, Michigan.

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