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Virgin Islands Republican Party Gets New Officers in Meeting On St. Thomas

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CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Rules governing the convention being convened to select GOP nominees for Congress and territorial offices as well as the party’s offices—chairman, national committeewoman, national committeeman and Territorial Committee members — were unanimously approved during a special meeting of the Republican Territorial Committee, according to state GOP chairman John Canegata.

The special meeting, held on St. Thomas in the Port Authority
Conference Room at the Cyril E. King International Airport, was called after the Joint Board of Elections informed Republican Party of the Virgin Islands chairman John Canegata on Thursday that it wouldn’t conduct a full partisan primary, Canegata said.

The official call to convention will be issued later today.

The Territorial Committee also unanimously ratified St. Thomas
resident and longtime party member April Newland as the GOP’s new vice chairman. Joining her as a new officer is Robert Max Schanfarber, also of St. Thomas. He was unanimously ratified as secretary.

“The new leaders and members are working tirelessly to grow the
Republican Party across the Virgin Islands,” said Canegata. “Every day I hear of someone changing their registration to Republican because of the renewed interest in the GOP this year, which is only a good thing as we work to rebuild the party and ultimately defeat Democrats at the ballot box.”

An additional eight new members of the Territorial Committee were also unanimously ratified. The members are Valerie Stiles and Andrea Lee Moeckel from St. Croix, Todd Hecht and Antoinette Hecht from St. Thomas and Aidza Enid Stapleton, Dennis Lennox, Eric Schindler and Thomas Tharrington as members at-large.

In other action, the Territorial Committee unanimously affirmed and
certified the Virgin Islands delegation to the Republican National
Convention, unanimously approved an amendment to its bylaws
prohibiting convicted felons from being members or serving as an
officer and unanimously established both the St. Thomas-St. John
District Republican Committee and the St. Croix District Republican
Committee.

“The high cost of travel between the islands makes it difficult to get
members together in the same place, on the same day and at the same time,” Canegata said. “The new district committees not only
decentralize the territorial party, but also give voice to the local
issues of each community as Republicans work together to ensure a
better, brighter future for all Virgin Islanders.”

Longtime GOP member Herbert L. Schoenbohm said the meeting was held at 7 p.m. on Friday with one-hour notice to members but that party rules require a three-day notice for meetings.

“The claim that this was an emergency meeting is total nonsense,” Schoenbohm said. “Most people in the party already knew of the BOE (Board of Elections) refusal to conduct party elections for months. So where is there any emergency? This is just more evidence of trying to rig the process as before with the blanket disqualification of duly-elected delegates by the chairman. None of this passes the smell test.”

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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