Politics of the United States Virgin Islands

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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the United States Virgin Islands

Politics of the United States Virgin Islands takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic dependency, whereby the Governor is the head of the local government, and of a multi-party system. The United States Virgin Islands are an unincorporated and organized territory of the United States, administered by the Office of Insular Affairs of the United States Department of the Interior. Executive power is exercised by the local government of the Virgin Islands. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Virgin Islands residents are U.S. citizens but cannot vote in United States presidential election and cannot elect voting members of Congress. However, in the U.S. House of Representatives, they are represented by a delegate, who can vote in congressional committees but not in the House itself. Virgin Islands residents can vote fully in all elections if they become a resident of one of the 50 U.S. states, while residents of one of the 50 states who become residents of the Virgin Islands can no longer vote for President or for voting members of Congress.

A federal lawsuit since 2011 in the District Court of the Virgin Islands and now before the Washington, D.C., Circuit Court is currently[1] pending to provide Virgin Islanders with the fundamental right to be represented in Congress and vote for U.S. President.[2] The federal case is Civil No. 3:11-cv-110, Charles v. U.S. Federal Elections Commission.[3] A similar case was filed in the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands against the local Board of Elections.[4] The cases allege it was racial discrimination present in an all-white and segregated Congress of 1917 that was the impetus to deny the right to vote to a majority non-white constituency.[5] The local case is also pending a decision.

Law[edit]

The Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands of 1954 [6] is the current Organic Act defining the government of the United States Virgin Islands, which were acquired by the United States through the Treaty of the Danish West Indies of 1916. It replaced the Organic Act of the Virgin Islands of 1936[7] and earlier temporary provisions.[8]

It was subsequently amended in 1958 to prohibit political or religious tests, but required a loyalty oath as qualification to any office or public trust.[9] The Virgin Islands Elective Governor Act [10] made the Governor an elected office,[11] and further amendments in 1984 removed the right to indictment for certain crimes and the jurisdiction of the admiralty courts.[12]

There have been several attempts at a constitution. The most recent attempt was the Fifth Constitutional Convention of the U.S. Virgin Islands which passed a proposed constitution in May 2009 but was rejected by Congress in June 2010.

Executive branch[edit]

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President of the United States Barack Obama Democratic 20 January 2009
Governor John de Jongh Democratic 1 January 2007

The governor and the lieutenant governor are elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms.

Territorial Cabinet[edit]

Department Office Incumbent in Office since
Department of Finance Commissioner Angel E. Dawson, Jr. *
Department of Justice Attorney General Vincent F. Frazer *
Office of Management & Budget Director Debra Gottlieb *
Department of Education Commissioner LaVerne Terry, Ph.D. *
Department of Public Works Commissioner Darryl A. Smalls *
Department of Sports, Parks & Recreation Commissioner St. Claire N. Williams *
Department of Police Commissioner Novelle E. Francis, Jr. *
Department of Property & Procurement Commissioner Lynn A. Millin Maduro *
Department of Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson Doty *
Department of Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Louis E. Petersen, Jr. *
Department of Labor Commissioner Albert Bryan, Jr. *
Department of Health Commissioner Julia Sheen-Aaron *
Department of Human Services Commissioner Christopher E. Finch *
Department of Planning & Natural Resources Commissioner, (acting) Alicia Barnes *
Department of Licensing & Consumer Affairs Commissioner Wayne L. Biggs, Jr. *
Division of Personnel Commissioner Kenneth Hermon, Jr. *
Office of Collective Bargaining Director Valdemar Hill, Jr. *
Internal Revenue Bureau Director Claudette Watson-Anderson *
Department of Fire Services Director, (acting) Steve Brow *
National Guard Adjutant General Gen. Renaldo Rivera *
VITEMA Director, (designee) Elton Lewis *
Inspector General Inspector General Steven G. van Beverhoudt *
Department of Veteran's Affairs Director Morris D. Moorehead *
Economic Development Authority Chief Executive Officer Percival Clouden *
Bureau of Economic Research Director Lauritz Mills *
Motor Vehicle Bureau Director Jerris T. Browne *

Legislative branch[edit]

The Virgin Islands's territorial legislature is the 15-member Legislature of the Virgin Islands. The body is unicameral and comprises seven Senators from the district of Saint Croix, seven Senators from the district of Saint Thomas and Saint John, and one Senator at-large (who must be a resident of Saint John). They are elected for a two-year term to the territorial legislature.

Political parties and elections[edit]

For other political parties see List of political parties in the U.S. Virgin Islands. An overview on elections and election results is included in Elections in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
e • d Summary of the 7 and 21 November 2006 U.S. Virgin Islands gubernatorial election results
Candidates Votes
1st round
% Votes
2nd round
%
John de Jongh - Democratic Party 15,914 49.33% 16,644 57.30%
Kenneth Mapp - Independent 8,756 27.14% 12,402 42.70%
Adlah Donastorg - Independent 7,580 23.49% - -
Write In 13 0.04% - -
Total 32,263 100.00% 29,046 100.00%
Source: Electoral System of the Virgin Islands [1], [2]
e • d Summary of the 4 November 2004 U.S. Virgin Islands Senate election results
Votes % Seats
Democratic Party of the Virgin Islands . 10
Independent Citizens Movement . 4
Non-partisans 1
Total (turnout  %)   15
Source: WSTA Lucky 13 Radio

The Virgin Islands elects one non-voting delegate to the United States House of Representatives; election last held 7 November 2006); results: Donna M. Christian-Christensen (Democrat) 62%, Warren B. Mosler (Independent) 37%,

Judicial branch[edit]

The U.S. Virgin Islands has a District Court, a Supreme Court and a Superior Court. Judges on the District Court are appointed by the President for ten year terms. Judges on the Supreme Court and Superior Court are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the legislative body.

Administrative divisions[edit]

There are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the U.S. Government, but there are three islands at the second order; Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas.

References[edit]