Judi Buckley Friend's death pushed Judi Buckley to become an activist
Published: January 10, 2013
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ST. CROIX - For the better part of the last 30 years, Judi Buckley has made St. Croix her home and has contributed to the community in many ways, but she said her run for a seat in the 30th Legislature is something that will empower her to do more for a broader spectrum of people in the community.
Buckley was born in Alabama and moved to St. Croix with her missionary parents along with her three sisters in 1982.
She attended school on St. Croix and enjoyed her life on the island until she moved to Florida to pursue higher education in 1994.
"I'm really an island girl, and even when I went away to school and started my family, I came back all the time for visits," she said.
Buckley graduated from University of North Florida with a bachelors degree in communications, and in 1999 she moved back to St. Croix.
She said her push to become more vocal and active for the betterment of the island came in 2003 when she started building her platform to compete in the Mrs. Virgin Islands competition.
During that time, she lost a dear friend, Matt Miller, in a traffic accident and it triggered her push to promote seat belt safety and organ donations.
"That was where I really launched my community service, and I wanted more than anything else to use my platforms to effect change in the community," she said.
When Buckley first became an activist, she was known as Judi Fricks. Since then, she has divorced and remarried, and while she hyphenated her name for a while, she said she is only going by Buckley now.
Buckley's activism mobilized her to organize neighborhood watch programs in a number of residential areas, and in 2008 she launched the local Crime Stoppers program. Since its beginnings, Crime Stoppers USVI has contributed to dozens of arrests and hundreds of crimes solved in the territory.
Buckley said that the Legislature faces many important issues to tackle in the territory, but she sees her top priorities as crime and education because they are closely associated and go hand-in-hand when it is time to work on solutions.
She said she decided to run for the Senate in 2010 because she saw the criminal justice system as having a revolving door, and she wanted to get back to work dealing with the issue of crime but focusing on education as a means of intervention.
"In many societies, those carrying out criminal acts are those who were lost in the education system," she said. "I started to volunteer with the entrepreneurial program and after-school programs, such as the Junior Achievers, to help the students realize their potential and excel."
She said she worked closely with youths in the territory and learned of the challenges in the system. That motivated her to run a second campaign with hopes of crafting legislation that could ultimately form a more sound education system for a more sound future of the community.
"I believe that until we better prepare the youth for success, our workforce and economy will always struggle," she said.
Buckley said she believes that she can work closely with the education department to identify deficiencies and find funding and use it more effectively.
"We have to invest in our teachers and not so much in state-of-the-art equipment and technology while teachers are neglected," she said. "If we can get better training and tools for teachers, they can really teach."
Buckley said she has seen a number of issues played out in previous Legislatures that were not in the best interest of the people of the territory, and she is hoping to make a difference.
Transparency in the institution and what information the public should have access to is one of the issues that needs to be addressed, she said.
"The government is the people, and we work for the people, and it's funded by tax dollars, so I believe the people should have the right to see everything," she said.
Buckley realizes that some interests have to be protected in certain cases, but with those exceptions, the Legislature needs to be an open book, and she plans to run her office as such, she said.
"We need to lead by example and put a mechanism in place for transparency," she said. "Public trust has been badly eroded, and we have to get that back."
Everything that transpires in the government agencies should be uploaded to their respective website, and in the absence of that, the public is left to draw their own conclusions, she said.
Regarding the local economy, Buckley said it is fragile right now, but it can be strengthened.
She said she understands that jobs are needed to stimulate the economy, but she believes that many projects being funded to lower unemployment are using money that could have been better spent to help lower energy costs. The government could have been paying down on the Levelized Energy Adjustment Clause until the rates go down and pass those savings on to the rate-payers, who she said are being held hostage by the high price.
Buckley said she plans to jump right into working with her colleagues to do whatever needs to be done to fast-track the alternative energy projects the V.I. Water and Power Authority has been preparing to launch.
"WAPA has been exploring solar, LNG and wind projects, and I'll be on board to get whatever relief we can get to the rate-payers because that's where it needs to start." Buckley said. "From there we can look into other things and start to see some economic growth."
Buckley said she is excited about the 30th Legislature and hopes to change the face of the Legislature as a unit and restore the full level of integrity that the office of Senate stands for.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.Age: 45
Education: bachelor's degree in communications from the University of North Florida, 1996.
Most recent occupation: Owner/operator of property management and relocation company Serenity Service, since 2005.