To run or not to run, that is the dilemma for the public servants that were listed as political candidates for the upcoming general elections, as His Excellency Governor Augustus Jaspert has confirmed that letters were indeed served.
The issue stems from the General Orders which have Civil Service stipulations making it clear that civil servants are prohibited from engaging in political activities. In fact, persons known to be in public service and listed as candidates of both major political parties were reportedly recipients of letters.
In confirming that the letters were indeed sent, the Governor said, “Any individual who has declared to be running as a candidate for the elections, when [that]happens, has received a letter saying that they need to choose whether they step back from their office or withdraw their nomination.”
Furthermore, the Governor opined that the rules on the matter would have been known to those seeking office: “It is very clear in terms of the laws. They have to choose whether they are going to run for elected office or stay as a public officer. The laws are pretty clear,” Governor Jaspert said.
The Governor’s comment came on the heels of a public concern that was raised by Third District Representative, and Opposition Member, Hon. Julian Fraser at a meeting that was held at the Valerie O. Thomas Community Center, Sea Cow’s Bay on 19 September.
In raising the concern Hon. Fraser said: “You have public servants who are supposedly running for public office and they make no secrets of it…The Governor is not living up to his responsibilities.”
In further noting that the Governor should intervene Hon. Fraser said: “The civil service is under him, as I said, and anything that is done by the public service is his responsibility. It is important because it is institutions we are talking about…they are destroying institutions. It is not about individuals, it has nothing to do with the individuals; it is the institution we are talking about.”
Some of the reported candidates being pointed at on the National Democratic side are alleged At-Large candidates, including Principal of the Elmore Stoutt High School (ESHS), Sandy Underhill, Chairman of the Virgin Islands and Festivals and Fairs Committee and Board Member of the BVI Ports Authority (BVIPA), Mr. Trefor Grant, and Speaker of the House of Assembly, Ingrid Moses-Scatliffe.
On the Virgin Islands Party side the candidates that were noted are: Director of Culture Dept., Luce Hodge-Smith, Commissioner for the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Kye Rymer, and member of the Public Service Commission, John Samuel.
However, it was mentioned that the candidates that were alleged to be running under the Virgin Islands Party ticket received their letters early. This was bemoaned as being unfair by persons such as Talk Show host Claude Skelton-Cline who said that this was not the case across the board. “We do know that letters were sent to those persons who were confirmed and announced on the VIP side, and their resignations and/or retirement has ensued; so it is curious now that the existing Speaker of the House is on that list,” he said.
In noting the names of the candidates he was most concerned about, Skelton-Cline said: “It is curious now that the Principal of the Elmore Stoutt High School is on that list. It is curious now that the member of the Board, many may not know – that would be Trefor Grant – sits on the Board of the BVI Ports Authority,” he disclosed.
While alluding to unfair practices the talk show host said, “We do know that John Samuels was asked to remove himself from that PSC Board, and we do know Mr. Kye Rymer and we do know, Ms. Smith and Mr. O’Neal what they faced when it was announced and so what we want to see now is what will happen.”