Updated: May 27
The Potter 2020 Senate Campaign will have as its overriding theme, the development of practical, common sense initiatives aimed at improving the quality of life for every Virgin Islander, with an emphasis on strengthening the family, the bedrock of our community.
Let’s get Serious about Our Families
Families provide love, support, structure and a framework of values. Our families are in trouble. Therefore, our community is in trouble. Whether you live in Tutu Valley or Hidden Valley, Pearson Gardens or Peterborg, Bovoni or Botany Bay, Coral Bay or Chocolate Hole, we can all bear witness to the crisis of the VI family, which is manifested in the following ways:
Spiraling crime and violence in our streets and neighborhoods due to poor conflict resolution skills and a lack of economic opportunities for our territory’s youth;
A challenged educational system that lacks the necessary tools to adequately motivate and challenge our children;
A poor youth employment outlook due to an ever-increasing dropout rate;
Insufficient income for families to meet their basic survival needs leading to mounting poverty;
A dangerous epidemic of absent fathers and abandoned sons leading to poor self-esteem and a pipeline to the criminal justice system;
An uptick in the number of single mothers forced to work multiple jobs to ensure their family’s economic survival, thereby increasing the influence of social media and gangs on the development of impressionable youngsters;
An ever-declining sense of Virgin Islands pride.
In our first term in office God willing, we will focus on passing a comprehensive initiative called the Family Redemption Act of 2021. This will be landmark legislation that requires working collaboratively with faith leaders, neighborhoods and non-profits to address a myriad of issues that negatively impact the Virgin Islands Family - from infants to senior citizens. I will share these ideas with greater specificity along the campaign trail and seek your input and support. Our aim is to nurture, support, repair and uplift the institution of the family, and to make our islands whole again.
The second tenet of the Potter 2020 campaign platform will be to offer meaningful strategies aimed at fixing the “Big Five”; those really vexing issues that threaten the collective survival of the Virgin Islands family: Crime, Healthcare, Education, WAPA and GERS. We can no longer afford to put these issues on the back burner and pretend that they will magically fix themselves.
Like you, I love these precious Virgin Islands. Working together, we have the ability to mend our fractured families, rebuild our broken infrastructure and restore our shattered dreams. Because you matter, your children matter, our families matter, the Virgin Islands matters. Let’s Get Serious!
Milton Potter on the Big Five
Let’s get serious about Crime
“Since 1990, over 1,000 Virgin Islanders have lost their lives due to senseless violence!” Lt. Jay Smith – VIPD
The VI’s unsustainable crime rate is snuffing out the lives of our young men at alarming rates, holding an entire community hostage. Our policing infrastructure is in dire need of an upgrade. We are using crime fighting tools from the 1970s to fight crime in the Information Technology era.
Our government must provide funding to assist law enforcement in obtaining critical resources, to include data driven solutions to solve crime;
If we expect our police officers to be professional, we must provide them with modern professional facilities, to include a first-class, fully accredited training academy;
We must improve police salaries and offer retention bonuses to ensure that we can recruit and retain top talent;
We must promote effective community policing through neighborhood engagement to proactively identify and address issues that impact the quality of life in our neighborhoods;
We must promote “second-chance” initiatives for young adult offenders as a means of reducing recidivism and improving outcomes for people returning from local and federal institutions.
We must implement creative crime prevention strategies aimed at diverting young people from the criminal justice system and quelling retaliatory crimes which make up the bulk of the murders in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Let’s get serious about Healthcare
“Our broken healthcare system with its high cost, lack of basic supplies, dwindling specialists, and decaying infrastructure has left VI residents feeling anxious and afraid. This is compounded in the COVID-19 era.” Jamal Thomas – Smith Bay
Healthcare is a human right, not a benefit for the well-to-do. Quality healthcare should be affordable and accessible to all Virgin Islanders.
As an underserved community, we must leverage local and federal programs to incentivize more physicians to work in the Virgin Islands;
We must work with the hospital system to coordinate a recruitment drive specifically targeting Virgin Islands Physicians to return home;
We must fund critical mental health services and facilities so that the Bureau of Corrections does not warehouse and criminalize the mentally ill;
It is imperative that we work with VI Equicare and the Government of the Virgin Islands’ health insurance provider to negotiate better rates for key medical procedures;
We must fast-track the rebuilding of our decimated healthcare infrastructure with particular attention on the Charlotte Kimmelman Cancer Center; after all, cancer is one of the leading killers in the VI. We have all been touched by this disease. It is unacceptable that we do not have an adequate treatment facility to care for our loved ones at home during this most vulnerable period of their life.
Let’s get serious about Education
“We are cheating our young people with the rapid erosion of public education. Our infrastructure is decaying, and our curriculum is watered down. We must treat our children as assets to be invested in not problems to be fixed. Jane Monroe – Educator
Education is the great equalizer and holds the key to economic freedom and future success. The Virgin Islands’ economic growth is inextricably tied to the success of our children, who deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential regardless of their family’s income.
Our territory must address the needs of the whole child from birth to career, starting with:
The expansion of high-quality, affordable childcare and pre-K programs;
The establishment of quality public schools that expose our youngsters to an exciting and holistic learning experience;
Recruiting, training and supporting our teachers to include improving salaries;
Improvement and expansion of school-based Early Warning Systems, tying them to evidence-based interventions for at-risk students;
The development of curricula focusing on Critical Thinking, STEM, Sports, the Arts, Environmental Education and other areas where students can pursue their passions;
Placing strong emphasis on Technical Education, such as a Construction Academy, to prepare youngsters who are not college bound for high paying jobs after leaving high school. As Virgin Islanders, we know all too well how important it is to have a cadre of competent Masons, Carpenters, and Electricians, given our recent experience recovering from the ravages of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Closely examining the efficacy of Block Scheduling in our public schools; and
Increasing the presence of School Psychologists, Social Workers and other mental health professionals in our schools.
Let’s get serious about WAPA
“The unreliability and high cost of WAPA, which seems to be holding on with rubber bands and duct tape, is a burden that’s becoming too much for the average Virgin Islander and small business owner to bear.” Henry Armstrong – Entrepreneur
Reliable power is a key ingredient to the stability, growth and development of any modern society. The prevalence of rolling blackouts, has kept us a heartbeat away from third world status. The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority’s (WAPA’s) unsustainable debt, years of mismanagement, lack of technical expertise and the GVI’s failure to pay its power bills on time have hit the Authority and the people of the VI hard. It is time for us to do the following:
Empower the Public Service Commission to enjoin WAPA to allow for proper oversight. This is the only jurisdiction in the United States where the local PSC does not have this crucial authority;
Install more efficient propane generators and integrate renewables onto the grid to reduce high energy cost;
Ensure that the GVI pays its utility bills on time;
Develop a more effective communications protocol between WAPA and the general public;
Ensure that there is a fair and efficient hearing protocol for residential and commercial consumers to address losses for damaged appliances and office equipment; and
Seek the technical support and assistance from the federal government to help develop, articulate, and implement a viable strategy based on industry best practices to put WAPA on a success trajectory, improving the quality of life for Virgin Islands residents and ensuring the survival of local businesses.
Let’s get serious about the Government Employees Retirement System (GERS)
“With the impending 2023 collapse of the GERS, the GVI is reneging on its promise to allow government employees to retire with some measure of dignity during their twilight years. This has cost me many sleepless nights.” Alex Petersen – 2012 Government Retiree.
We face the demise of the GERS with an estimated $4,000,000,000 unfunded liability and no real plan of action to remedy this crisis. Our leaders’ indecisiveness over the years have significantly reduced our options today. The collapse of the System will have the cumulative effect of Hurricanes Hugo, Marilyn, Irma and Maria! We must take blind emotion out of the equation and make more strategic, well-reasoned, and accelerated moves if we are to save the System. Additionally, we must:
Escalate the GERS crisis to “code red” status to ensure it gets the urgent and consistent attention it demands. The loss of 25% of GDP would be unimaginable for the VI community. We cannot continue to see ourselves inching closer and closer to the precipice of disaster and do nothing about it;
Work collaboratively to Identify strategies aimed at successfully issuing a $750,000,000 pension bond to allow the GERS to take advantage of the investment market and extend its life;
Identify new and dedicated revenue streams to help stabilize the system’s operational costs;
Gradually transition the GERS to a defined contribution plan (emulating a 401k) for new employees
Make prudent decisions based on facts and data as opposed to emotions and politics.