2022 voting season in final stages as candidates draw
The 2022 election season entered its final phase on Monday evening as candidates participated in the draw for voting positions in November’s general election.
The atmosphere in the Electoral System offices in St. Thomas was relaxed as the brief procedure took place simultaneously via live video. While on St. Croix, candidates and supporters were amped up, ready to receive their assigned numbers, and even let out cheers once the candidates received their numbers.
In both locations, at the time election workers and Board of Elections members gathered, there was also a small crowd of candidates for public office. The hopefuls lined up in the hallway outside the St. Thomas Boardroom until they were called inside to view the drawing. In Sainte-Croix, groups of crowds gathered around their candidate of choice as they waited patiently.
Election Supervisor Caroline Fawkes signaled the start shortly after 5:30 p.m. By then, Assistant Supervisors Kevermay Douglas and Terrell Alexandre completed testing the audio and visual connections between the two offices.
Alexander kicked things off by pulling the numbers of delegates to Congress. Fawkes noted that the incumbent, delegate Stacey Plaskett, is running unopposed, so she drew the first ballot.
The next set of drawings were of the candidate teams vying for Governor and Lieutenant Governor. With the help of a member of staff, Alexandre drew the numbers of the four competing teams.
Then came the ballots for the 35th Legislature, starting with Senator at-Large. Incumbent Senator Angel Bolques Jr. cast the first ballot for this race. Challenger Sherry Ann Francis drew the next ballot in the two-man race.
Election officials called each polling division before the draw began. Folded pieces of paper were dropped into a clear plastic tray, which was then shaken before the top was opened for drawing. If contestants were present, they could reach inside the box when their race was called and draw their own number, or they could send a notarized letter designating someone else to complete the task.
Those vying for district seats in the Legislative Assembly streamed into the St. Thomas Conference Room, sitting by the door, waiting to hear their names called. While in Sainte-Croix, candidates crowded the lobby of the Elections Office, waiting for their names to be called.
Candidate Ray Fonseca was the first to hear the call on St. Thomas. He stood up, walked over to the plastic case, and pulled out number six. Incumbent Senator Dwayne DeGraff followed, drawing the 12th ballot. Lawrence Boschulte sent a letter naming Randolph Bennett as his attorney. Bennett shot number seven.
Joel Browne Connor appeared in person on Monday afternoon. When his name was called, he pulled number nine. Senator Marvin Blyden did not show up when his name was called; an election staff member drew the fourth ballot for him in his absence.
Outgoing Senator Alma Francis Heyliger appeared in time to pick up a paper with number eight. Senate President Donna Frett-Gregory did the same, choosing number 11. Election officials drew number 10 for Senator Milton Potter. A representative for Senator Carla Joseph drew number three.
Senate contender Margaret Price seethed as she turned to the crowd, displaying number 13. “This is my second attempt, and it’s so ironic because the number I drew is the same one I I shot last time,” Price said.
And former planning and natural resources commissioner Dawn Henry got the fifth ballot in her bid for the 35th legislature.
Joining via Livestream, Gov. Albert Bryan, Jr. and Lt. Gov. Tregenza Roach, who are the No. 1 pick by District Manager Dennis Brow, had a team of supporters at the St. Croix Elections Office. “You rally around numbers at election time, and one is a good number to have,” Roach said.
In Sainte-Croix, Senator Kurt Vialet, who is in the running for governor, chose number 4 and said, “It feels really good. Very, very good choice of a number today takes the campaign to a next phase. We will advertise to push ballet number four. I am very excited for November 8, wishing it was tomorrow. We are ready for the race and the team is ready.
Senator Javan James said: “It feels good because now we can focus on the real issues as far as the debates are concerned. What makes the number is the person and the person behind that number, once they do a great job.
Other candidates who were seen casting their spells included Diane Capehart, Senator Samuel Carrion, Nemmy Jackson and other candidates.
The draws on St. Thomas continued, with school board and electoral board candidates receiving their ballot numbers for November. Longtime Board of Education incumbents Judy Gomez and Arah Lockhart received ballots one and two. Michael Charles, a contender, received the third ballot.
Election workers also drew numbers for the district election board. Incumbent Shakima Jones-Sprauve received the first ballot, followed by contender Todd Hecht in second place. Electoral commission incumbent Atanya Springette clinched position three. Harriet Mercer, an incumbent, drew the fourth ballot. Aspirant Jacquel Dawson completed the draw for the Board of Elections with the fifth ballot.
Fawkes released a brief statement on Monday night saying the draw was over. “All candidates have been vetted and approved to appear on the general election ballot,” the election supervisor said.