ST. CROIX — It’s the time of year when politicians announce their candidacies. On Friday, Senator Kenneth Gittens made known his plans at Gertrude’s Restaurant, and Saturday, Senator Kurt Vialet gathered with supporters at the Caravelle Hotel to make the case for why he should be given two more years.
MC’d by his daughter, Kurrisa Vialet, the senator, a freshman Democrat, was lauded by various speakers, including former Lieutenant Governor Vargrave Richards, former senator and radio personality Holland Redfield, and was flanked by his St. Croix colleagues Neville James, Sammuel Sanes, Novelle Francis and Mr. Gittens.
In a moment of unity, Mr. Vialet called the senators to the podium before he commenced his speech, and spoke of a bond that had been lacking among St. Croix lawmakers. Appearing as the standout leader, partly because it was his event, Mr. Vialet listed the wins that, as a group, they have netted for St. Croix — from Hospital funding to the staunch support for the casino located in the very establishment where the event was held.
The senator, a former educator, then delved into a surfeit of accomplishments and pending legislation, noting them as reasons why he should be considered for two more years. From rum fungus to education and healthcare measures, the senator made known his accomplishments. His efforts to bring a bachelor’s in nursing degree to St. Croix’s UVI campus became a reality this year following a $432,000 allocation. All last year, Mr. Vialet advocated tirelessly to make school lunch workers full-time government employees; which came to fruition on February 22.
For Mr. Vialet, a positive mindset should be the attitude of every Crucian; born on the island or elsewhere. He said for years residents have talked down St. Croix, unlike St. Thomians, who hide the negatives and put to the forefront the positives. It’s an attitude that must be adopted if St. Croix is to be seen by the outside world as the welcoming and attractive place that it is, the freshman contended.
And he objected to the “nothing is happening” notion that he says has been prevalent here, highlighting the ArcLight Partners, LLC deal that has already resulted in 500 jobs, the opening of the Caravelle Hotel casino with its 60 employees, and new restaurants that have opened in various parts of the island as proof of forward movement.
“You’re going to see the highway start paving shortly. You’re going to see a number of projects coming online,” Mr. Vialet added.
Other topics included a curfew bill that calls for students to be in class during school hours, giving law enforcement the power to take action against violators, and the role of parents as well as the community in ensuring that the youth follow a path that steers clear from violence.
“You multiply the parents that are suffering, the siblings that are suffering, the children that they have — we’re losing a whole society,” Mr. Vialet said about gun violence. “And we have to reach to the point where it is all of our responsibility to stop that from happening.”