The League of Women Voters of the V.I. held their 53rd annual meeting on Saturday with the Senate President of the 34th Legislature, Donna Frett-Gregory as their keynote speaker.
The meeting was held via Zoom, and Frett-Gregory spoke on the challenges and opportunities seen through a legislative lens. Despite contracting COVID-19, Frett-Gregory pressed through the speaking arrangement.
She started off by commending the members of the women’s league for staying “engaged and interested in the organization’s steadfast commitment to protect and encourage voting here in the Virgin Islands, to empower voter registration through education, and to advocate for voting rights here in the territory.”
Some of the challenges that Frett-Gregory encounters along with her colleagues include public safety and health, behavioral health, the Water and Power Authority, and education, just to name a few.
“Serving in an institution such as this is a challenge,” said Frett-Gregory.
“Our territory continues to face critical issues, which means the 34th Legislature still has a lot of work to do. Major pieces of legislation to consider. We know that this is the election cycle, but I am committed that we stay focused. As the president of the institution, my responsibility is to reign my colleagues back in and get us to refocus on where we are and where we need to be going to ensure that we remain focused on the people’s business.”
Frett-Gregory said that during her time as president, it is important to allow all sides to be heard. “It is intended to facilitate decision-making from an informed perspective. Way too many times, decisions are made when we are not informed and expect others to inform us, and we are not seeking the information for ourselves,” said Frett-Gregory.
A particular piece of legislation that is of interest to her was the bureau of school construction and maintenance, which failed in committee. “It didn’t fail because it was a poorly drafted measure. It failed purely on feelings at the time,” said Frett-Gregory.
She also spoke about being only the third woman to lead the Legislature after some 68-plus years.
“We should look to seek opportunity in every challenge. As women, we face challenges daily, and we should create opportunities not only for ourselves but for other women,” said Frett-Gregory.
“We should do so by scholarships, sponsorship, and mentorship. Women have and continue to be elected to the Senate to represent the people, and we need to get to a space where we are comfortable with a woman leading the U.S. Virgin Islands. And collectively, we must work to remove the biases associated with women in leadership.”
Later, a panel discussion regarding the constitution and political status of the U.S. Virgin Islands was led by the President of the League of Women Voters of the V.I., Gwen-Marie Moolenar, along with Gerard Emanuel and Ronald Russel.
Moolenar also gave updates earlier in the session regarding what took place during the members-only business portion earlier in the day. She said that the league elected new members for the year, and Moolenar was then re-elected as president. She said that the committee will be hosting a “meet the candidate forum,” where the public can meet the candidates running for the 2022 election.
To see the entire 2022 annual meeting public session, you can view it on the League of Women Voters of the V.I. YouTube Channel.