It was a busy election cycle in the U.S. Virgin Islands, with the passage of a referendum on medical marijuana and the defeat of the proposed increase of senatorial terms by a wide margin. The Territory also has a new Governor-Elect in former Lt. Gov. Kenneth Mapp.
Mapp won a November 18 runoff against Donna Christian-Christensen after the two received the most votes in the November 4 general election. With nearly 64 percent of the vote, it was a decisive victory for Mapp, who has a long history of serving in the Government of the Virgin Islands. He replaces outgoing Gov. John deJongh, who was term-limited and unable to run again.
So what can we expect from the newly elected Governor? For the most part, Governor-Elect Mapp made jobs and economic growth the cornerstone of his campaign, which resonated with voters. He made a campaign promise of creating 1,000 government jobs after his election, along with strategies to reduce energy costs and the revitalization of the towns of Christiansted and Frederiksted.
To achieve his jobs promise, Mapp has proposed recruiting 250 new law enforcement officers, more than 500 teachers and school staff, 75 correctional officers and 125 nurses, revenue agents, emergency medical technicians and other classified government workers. He has argued that excessive overtime in government positions has caused budgetary challenges, and by reducing overtime and filling vacant roles, his job goals will be attainable. In particular, Mapp says, the hiring of revenue agents will help ensure the government collects more of the taxes and fees owed the Government of the Virgin Islands.
When it comes to tourism, Mapp supports the construction of at least one hotel on St. Thomas and has plans for completing the Main Street Enhancement Project to revitalize downtown Charlotte Amalie. He also approves of the construction of a new branded hotel on St. Croix.
Looking at the Executive Budget of the Government of the Virgin Islands, Mapp wants to closely analyze any areas of waste and possible consolidation to achieve greater efficiencies, and to balance the budget by leveraging federal funds in a timelier manner.
Mapp has served in various roles in government, including the Director of Finance and Administration for the Public Finance Authority, Director of the Consumer Services Administration and Assistant Director of the Industrial Development Commission. He also served in the 15th and 18th USVI legislatures and was Lieutenant Governor from 1995 to 1999.
Like many candidates for public office, Governor-Elect Mapp outlined an ambitious agenda on the campaign trail. Although it’s difficult to determine how successful he will be with these initiatives, we do know some of the new Governor’s top areas of focus as he takes office on January 5.
BoltNagi is a widely respected and well-established government relations law firm serving individuals, businesses and organizations throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.