Dr Wheatley said he was recruited to the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) from the People’s Empowerment Party (PEP) after the political drubbing at the hands of the National Democratic Party in 2015. At that time, they were in a rebuild with only two candidates in the House of Assembly – Andrew Fahie and Julian Fraser.
The Premier said he became the president of the VIP and in 2019, he ran as a candidate for District Seven and was finally successful.
“I think people were looking for a change at that particular time and people saw me as representing a change and they supported me,” Dr Wheatley said.
The arrest of former Premier Fahie at the end of April meant Dr Wheatley had to assume the role of Premier and it is something he said his experiences have prepared him for.
“The unfortunate events of the last few weeks have propelled me into the Premier seat. It is something I have prepared for. All my life, I really wanted the opportunity to help people and God has given me certain gifts that I believe I can use to lead the people at this particular time,” Dr Wheatley said.
He noted that throughout his life, he always cared about helping the people of the Virgin Islands. As a result, he found himself in political organisations, activist and community groups and consequently the natural progression was to seek elected office.
“I think at the time where I was running for office, I did not see persons representing the perspective that I really wanted to represent. So, I put myself forward for service,” the Premier said.
He admitted it had been a challenging journey but nonetheless, he said it has helped him to become who he is today. Dr Wheatley said when he first attempted to run for office, he did not think any of the two major political parties – NDP and VIP – represented his beliefs and ideas. He also highlighted his experiences with them activated him politically and he felt the Virgin Islands needed a new voice. .
Currently, Dr Wheatley said, as Premier, he wants to focus on pushing the good governance agenda. He noted the VIP’s campaign rested heavily on good governance. And despite passing legislation, he thinks more can be done.
“We must reaffirm our commitment to the good governance agenda. Not only in such a way where we are ticking boxes and going through the motions but something where we really evaluate some of the practices and the bad habits of government,” Dr Wheatley said.