Virgin Islanders off to Washington for Trump inaugural

The Virgin Islands will be represented at the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence.

Leading the territory’s delegation are Republican chairman John Canegata, national committeewoman and former territorial Sen. Lilliana Belardo de O’Neal, and national committeeman Jevon Williams.

Chairman John Canegata, accompanied by national committeewoman Lilliana Belardo de O’Neal, casts the votes of the Virgin Islands delegation for Donald Trump as the Republican presidential candidate at the 2016 GOP national convention in Cleveland.

“It will be a privilege to represent our diverse island communities at the swearing-in of President-elect Trump and Vice President-elect Pence,” said Canegata, who also led the territory’s delegation to the 2016 Republican National Convention in voting to nominate Trump. “This historic occasion is also another opportunity to advocate a brighter future for the Virgin Islands.”

Canegata, Belardo de O’Neal, and Williams will first attend the Republican National Committee winter meeting, where they will vote to ratify Trump’s selection of Ronna Romney McDaniel to replace incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus as national GOP chairman. If ratified, Romney McDaniel, presently the Michigan Republican Party chairman, will become only the second female national chairman in the history of the Republican Party.

“President-elect Trump made an excellent selection in Ronna Romney McDaniel,” said Belardo de O’Neal, the second longest-serving committeewoman on the RNC. “Having spent my entire career in public service breaking barriers and creating opportunities for women, I look forward to addressing her as madame chairman.”

Canegata, Belardo de O’Neal, and Williams serve as the Virgin Islands members of the 168-member RNC, which functions as the GOP’s national board of directors. Each state party for the 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia is represented by its chairman, national committeewoman, and national committeeman.

After the RNC winter meeting, they will witness the swearing-in of Trump and Pence on the steps of the United States Capitol. From there they will attend both the official inaugural ball and the New York State Society inaugural ball.

The Virgin Islands delegation will also coordinate with other delegations — American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico — to advance the collective interests of the five U.S. territories in the wake of Trump and the Republican congressional majority winning election on a campaign platform that specifically included the territories.

“Mr. Trump ran for the presidency as a partner of the Virgin Islands and he will continue being a partner of the Virgin Islands as our country’s forty-fifth president,” said Williams. “This is a tremendous opportunity to advance our interests; both through the Trump administration and through the Congress, especially with the election of Jenniffer González as the new congresswoman from nearby Puerto Rico.”

Canegata, Belardo de O’Neal, and Williams will also continue advising on the filling of presidential appointments in the Virgin Islands, including for U.S. attorney, U.S. marshal, and judge of the federal District Court.

Also in the delegation are territorial Republican vice chairman April Newland, State Committee member Humberto O’Neal, and 2016 GOP nominee for delegate to Congress Gordon Ackley.

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