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On Island Profile: Melody Rames

Aug. 7, 2005 – The political bug bit Melody Rames almost two decades ago. Since then she has amassed countless hours in political campaigns and community work. She does it for the love of her community and the excitement of the race.
"This is the best field of work for me," said Rames, who is currently the public relations officer for the Democratic Minority Caucus. Rames said working in politics gives her the freedom to express her creativity, complete meaningful assignments and do her part to help the community. "Politics is a cumbersome process, especially in the Virgin Islands, but the milestones I celebrate are when our efforts help the common man or woman."
Delegate Donna M. Christensen recently selected Rames to attend political leadership training in Baltimore, Md. "Only one person from the territory was selected," Rames said. "I was really honored to attend. I've wanted to go on a training trip like this for several years."
The Congressional Black Caucus and Morgan State University's Political Leadership Institute held the training on the campus of Morgan State University. Rames said the "experience was beyond words … It was packed with information and we were able to speak to and exchange ideas with several Congressional members and experts in the field of demographics, statistics, and campaigning — we received information on conducting a winning campaign, from the announcement to the victory speech."
Rames put that knowledge plus some V.I. flavor to the test while in Maryland. The participants were separated into three groups and told to conduct an election. Rames was selected by her group to be campaign manager. She said, "We set a vision right away and proceeded on our mission. It was an intensive campaign. We did some real-time events, like an announcement, fundraisers, and a rally — everything else was simulated. We stayed up late researching issues and devising demographics and statistics – we even calculated how many votes we needed each hour to win."
In the end Rames' team emerged victorious. "It was 'shock and awe' all the way. The other teams couldn't do anything except try to catch up to us."
Rames credited her qualified team. "We had people who worked for congressional representatives, mayor's offices, they were all just so intelligent and motivated – it was really a group effort."
The effort was not without humor. Rames said when one team was making its candidate announcement, her team made one of its own a reporter from a local newspaper. The reporter asked the candidate about an allegation that he had bought his degree online. The third team took the up the ball and started shouting, "Ellis go home" [the candidates name]. Rames added, "We just sat back and watched his announcement go up in smoke. They never recovered from that."
"The first time I was involved in politics was when former Sen. Lilliana Belardo de O'Neal asked me to join her campaign for Lt. Governor with Julio Brady in 1986," Rames said. "We lost that election but I was hooked. Two years later I campaigned for Belardo again and got on her staff when we won."
Since then Rames has worked with Sens. David Jones, John Tutien and Ronald E. Russell. While living in Houston, Texas, a few years ago she volunteered to work on the successful re-election campaign of Lee P. Brown, Houston's former mayor. "That experience showed me that campaigns are run the same all over. I was glad the Virgin Islands was on the right track."
Rames is also very involved with other aspects of the community. She has been involved with the V..I Victory Partnership since 1994 and is presently board president of Unity Coalition, a program of The Village. Unity works with young people and offers them alternatives to underage drinking, illegal drug use and promotes abstinence and safe sex. The coalition produces the annual Teen Summit and oversees the Night out Against Crime and Drugs.
She is also acting board president of the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention, which oversees some federal programs associated with incarceration of juveniles in the territory. The program also provides grants for juvenile delinquency prevention programs.
This summer a program Rames has been working on for almost two years has finally materialized. The V.I. Flava Drum and Bugle Corps is the first marching band of its kind in St. Croix. The program has met with enthusiastic participation of St. Croix youth.
She concludes, "Yes, my life is very busy, but I would not have it any other way. Sometimes I take a weekend for myself – turn off the phone and no one can find me – you have to have some kind of balance – time to recharge the batteries."
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