3 newcomers to join 4 incumbents on ballot


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ST. CROIX - The Democratic voters have selected the seven nominees to compete in the senatorial race during the General Election in November and the top two vote getters in Saturday's election were Kurt Vialet and Novelle Francis, who have never before thrown their hats in the political ring for any office.

With almost 3,000 votes, Vialet said he felt great on his win and his No. 1 ranking and was humbled by the overwhelming support.

"I have a great core group of supporters and we all know that this is not the end because we have more work to do as we push toward the General Election," Vialet said.

He said he has proven himself in the community with his success first with the students and staff at St. Croix Educational Complex and his success in more recent years after being transferred to Arthur Richards Junior High school.

"I'm really thankful for the opportunity to serve and I'm hopeful that the people will continue to put their trust and confidence in me for the general election," he said.

Less than 200 votes behind of Vialet, former police commissioner Francis said he was delighted with his placement and confident that the voters have heard and understood the messages he has been trying to bring across.

"This is certainly an overwhelming vote for a change in the Senate," he said. "The voters have made it clear by voting in two newcomers to the top spots and that speaks volumes."

Francis said he believes that his focus on the economy and crime issues in the community struck a note with the voters.

"As we move forward I want to be able to form and develop a consensus to work with others to move St. Croix forward," Francis said. "It has to be about St. Croix; our economy has to be a priority before anything else."

Malcolm McGregor, former Frederiksted administrator and another first time political aspirant, is ranked in the No. 6 spot and said he and his great team of supporters worked hard to get his work and passion for St. Croix recognized by the people and he is satisfied in the results. He said it is now time to regroup and look at the results by geographical location across the island and see where more focus is needed.

"We worked hard and the people know of my commitment," he said. "I think the weather, the small number of polls and their locations played a significant role in the low turn out."

McGregor said he will continue to push his agenda for a better St. Croix because that is what he believes in and that is what the people are crying out for.

Senator Kenny Gittens, who was first elected to the Senate two years ago, placed third in the election, more than 500 votes behind Francis. He said the trust and confidence of the people is something that he is grateful for. He said in the current Legislature he has voted on issues with the best interest of the people in mind and said it is clear that he has been working toward the benefit of the community and he intends to do no less as he moves toward the General Election with eyes focused on the near and distant future of the island.

Neville James, who has served several terms in the Legislature but was ousted in the 2012 elections, ranked right behind of Gittens, with only 40 votes separating them. He could not be reached for comment following the election.

Incumbent Senator Sammuel Sanes thanked the public for continuing to support his efforts, saying that he has continuously worked hard and recognized the plight of the people. He said he plans to step up his campaigning for the upcoming General Election because he still has a lot of work to do to bring St. Croix back to where it needs to be.

Sen. Diane Capehart who now holds the final and seventh seat after the unofficial poll numbers were tallied, is only 30 votes ahead of eighth-place finisher Paul Arnold Jr.

Capehard said the results are very close and the residents are raising their voices with the high support for the three first-time aspirants.

"Win, lose of draw I am thankful to the voters for coming out and being a part of the process," she said. "I need their continued support for the General Election as I remain focused on their work."

Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes said Saturday that their are 388 walk-in ballots that need to be counted and there were about 124 absentee ballots that had been mailed out and are expected to be returned with votes that will count towards Saturday's election.

Those votes could be the deciding factor in whether Capehart is able to retain her seat in the V.I. Legislature or if first-time contender Arnold will replace her as they move toward the General Elections in November.

Arnold said the voters have spoken and is satisfied with his first run. He said no one knows how the counting of the walk-in and absentee ballots will affect the race and placement at this time, but whatever the results, he will be content, knowing that they all worked hard and ran a good clean and honest race.

"We will just wait and see, I am ready to work for the people and if I am not selected I am ready to throw my support behind whoever is," he said.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email fstokes@dailynews.vi.

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