Virgin Islands convention delegate shares U ties

Herbert Schoenbohm is representing the Virgin Islands territory as a delegate at the Republican National Convention. He graduated from the University in the early 1970s and now works for the Virgin Islands government.

Jennifer Whalen

Herbert Schoenbohm is representing the Virgin Islands territory as a delegate at the Republican National Convention. He graduated from the University in the early 1970s and now works for the Virgin Islands government.

The trip to Minnesota for the Republican National Convention is less of a vacation and more of a return for Herbert Schoenbohm , a delegate representing the Virgin Islands at the convention. âÄúWhen I left Minneapolis, the Foshay Tower was the tallest building in town,âÄù Schoenbohm said last Wednesday as the Virgin Islands delegates gathered in the membersâÄô lounge of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Minneapolis for a meeting. The delegation is staying at the Radisson Hotel on campus. The 68-year-old delegate graduated from the University in the early 1970s with degrees in meteorology, geography and music. He now works for the Virgin Islands government. âÄúIt feels great being back on campus,âÄù Schoenbohm said. Schoenbohm lived in Dinkytown during his time at the University, where he played music to pay his way through college. During his time there, he crossed paths with many musicians, including Bob Dylan. âÄúI saw this Zimmerman guy playing and said that he would never amount to anything,âÄù Schoenbohm said. âÄúJust goes to show what I know.âÄù Schoenbohm said it was his time working for the John Kennedy presidential campaign in 1960 that got him interested in the Republican Party. SchoenbohmâÄôs job was to drive people to polling places, but he said the âÄúcorruptâÄù campaign prompted him to switch parties. âÄúI decided that I wanted to be a part of a party with a completely different approach âÄî a conservative approach,âÄù he said. But it was SchoenbohmâÄôs love for music that eventually led him to the Virgin Islands. After college, Schoenbohm worked for radio station KQRS as the musical director, playing Latin and Brazilian music in the evenings and sparking his interest in the tropics. âÄúI knew I wanted to be close to the tropics, and the Virgin Islands was the perfect place,âÄù he said. Schoenbohm now works for the Virgin Islands government in the Office of Property and Procurement , but he said he is about ready to retire. The Virgin Islands, which lie between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, is about twice the size of Washington, D.C., with a population of 108,210, according to the CIA World Factbook. During the 17th century, the Virgin Islands archipelago was divided into English and Danish territories. In 1917, the U.S. purchased the Danish portion. According to the Factbook, the Virgin Islands are an unincorporated territory of the United States, meaning itâÄôs an area where Congress hasnâÄôt fully extended the Constitution. Residents of unincorporated territories donâÄôt vote in elections for U.S. president and vice president. Warren Cole, chairman of the Virgin Islands delegation, said this is one of the issues the delegates are putting forward at the convention. âÄúWe are promoting the territorial issues that are important to the Virgin Islands, primarily extension of all basic political rights to the territories,âÄù Cole said. The Virgin Islands delegates are also looking for recognition for their contributions to national security. âÄúWe just buried a solider from Iraq last week,âÄù he said. Although the Virgin Islands are small, Cole said they arenâÄôt âÄúbulldozedâÄù by other states. âÄúThe Virgin Islands has just as many representatives in the [RNC] rules committee and platform as New York state or California,âÄù he said. âÄúWe have a legitimate voice.âÄù Much work must be done at the convention, but the Virgin Islands delegates are looking forward to enjoying all the sites Minneapolis and St. Paul have to offer, Lilliana Belardo de OâÄôNeal, national committeewoman for the Virgin Islands, said. âÄúMinneapolis has so many things to offer,âÄù she said. âÄúIt is a good to get away from a small island and to come to a big place like this.âÄù