Elections challenges Maduro suspension
Published: September 19, 2012
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ST. THOMAS - The St. Thomas-St. John Board of Elections on Tuesday narrowly voted to challenge the decision of V.I. Elections Supervisor John Abramson Jr. to suspend Deputy Supervisor of Elections Mabel Maduro.
After an executive session that was not included on the board's meeting agenda, Board Secretary Larry Boschulte made an unsuccessful motion to send a letter to Joint Board of Elections Chairman Rupert Ross Jr. in support of Abramson's decision.
In an Aug. 31 letter written to Ross, Abramson requested the immediate dismissal of Maduro.
"Ms. Maduro is a serious liability to this System as we move forward in this critical election cycle," Abramson wrote.
Abramson urged the board to terminate Maduro and replace her with the St. Thomas-St. John District Board of Elections employee Sharon Benjamin until a permanent replacement is found. Maduro was hired by the board more than two years ago, prior to the 2010 elections.
When Boschulte's motion failed, Board member Claudette Georges moved to recommend the opposite to the Joint Board, asking it to reinstate Maduro and provide her with back-pay.
This motion passed, 4-3. Georges, Lorna Thomas, Colette White-Amaro and Wilma Marsh Monsanto voted for the motion. Boschulte, Harry Daniel and Alecia M. Wells voted against it.
Monsanto, who had previously agreed to recuse herself from board votes while running for the territory's Senate At-Large seat, said she changed her mind because of the issue's importance.
"I'm a legitimate, hard-working board member, and this is so crucial," she said.
Monsanto said the Board's legal counsel had informed the Board there is nothing in the law preventing her from continuing to serve on the board while running for office.
She also said Abramson deprived Maduro of her due process rights and described the supervisor's actions as "grossly unethical."
"I believe if an employee is not up to par, they should be forewarned that they are performing inadequately and given a certain amount of time to improve," Monsanto said.
But Boschulte criticized Monsanto's reversal of position.
"I think it's shameful that we have a board member who picks and chooses when she wants to be a part of the board," Boschulte said.
He said he thinks Monsanto violated an ethical obligation to maintain an untainted image of the board, regardless of her legal right to continue serving on the board while running for office.
Monsanto replied in turn, calling Boschulte "rude" and commenting on the overall state of the body that oversees the territory's elections process.
"This board is like an upside-down pineapple cake," Monsanto said.
Abramson did not return a call for comment late Tuesday.
- Contact reporter Lou Mattei at 714-9124 or email email@example.com.