Territorial At-Large seats treated like a stepchild, says Malone
Territorial At-Large Member Carvin Malone has suggested that various governments have failed to give At-Large seats their fair share of care and attention over the years.
Malone argued that district representatives are not in favour of Territorial At-Large positions remaining in place. “They reckon, ‘we are perfect as we are,” Malone said on the Umoja show yesterday.
“I was a member of the Constitutional review [panel] back in 2005. When I read the report, I had forgotten the fact that it was a fierce argument because the At-Large constituency is almost like a stepchild to most governments,” Malone stated.
According to Malone, various National Democratic Party (NDP) governments have been the greater beneficiary and most adept users of the At-Large system since its introduction.
Giving a background to the system, Malone said the section of the constitution which speaks to Territorial At-Large representation was hurriedly implemented in 1995. He argued that the new system was introduced to the territory “almost as a trial” back then and without any guidelines.
Malone said the then-Chief Minister H. Lavity Stoutt concluded that the At-Large system’s introduction was a ploy to get Stoutt’s Virgin Islands Party (VIP) government out of power because the party had a stronghold on the district system.
“It didn’t prove true in 95, it didn’t prove true in 99, but from 2003 we saw where it made a big difference,” he said.
Malone recently proposed in the House of Assembly (HOA) that the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) adopt an amendment to look at whether Anegada and Jost Van Dyke should be declared as Districts 10 and 11, respectively, and elect their own representatives; thereby reducing the number of Territorial At-Large seats from four to two.
However, his suggestion was not taken up by his fellow lawmakers and he was informed that this can be put to the CRC during its consultations with the public.