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A 1st: Three Gubernatorial teams publicly unite behind Lolo and Lemanu

Three gubernatorial teams that didn’t make it to the top in the Nov. 6 general election have stepped up to support the the team of Lolo Matalasi Moliga and Lemanu Peleti Sialega Mauga in the Nov. 20 run off election, which will decide the territory’s next governor and lieutenant governor.

Lolo made the announcement yesterday during a news media briefing while the other three teams were present: Afoa L.S. Lutu and Le’i S. Thompson; Dr. Salu Hunkin-Finau and Utuali’i Iuniasolua Savusa; and Tim Jones and Tuika Tuika.

Gubernatorial Team Save and Sandra was the fourth team that ran, but were not present yesterday. No mention was made of the absent team, nor if they will be supporting the other gubernatorial team.

Lolo and Lemanu face the gubernatorial team of Lt. Gov. Faoa Aitofele Sunia and Taufete’e John Faumuina in the special election, which was called by the chief election officer during the wee hours of the morning of Nov. 7, when it became clear that none of the teams had garnered 50% plus one vote in the general election.

Lolo said that he and Lemanu, as well as the three other gubernatorial teams present at the media briefing, have come together because the main goal from the start of the gubernatorial race was to make a change in the top leadership of the American Samoa Government.

He said the other gubernatorial teams in attendance have all agreed to “stand together, stand united” with the Lolo and Lemanu team to make that change.

Lolo thanked Afoa, Le’i, Hunkin-Finau, Utuali’i, Jones and Tuika for their consensus to come together and stand united for a change in the government. He said winning is not easy, and making change is also not easy. He said each of these teams had called for change in government during the general election and now they are all united together as one to make that call for change, which will be made if he and Lemanu are successful in the run-off.

Afoa, Hunkin-Finau and Jones all spoke as well. Afoa said that he, along with Le’i and their supporters have agreed to give their support to Lolo and Lemanu as their choice for governor and lieutenant governor for the next four years.

Afoa also said that their supporters made their wishes known last week during a meeting, and those same wishes have been relayed to Lolo and Lemanu, in which they are supporting them. He wishes Lolo and Lemanu the best.

Hunkin-Finau said she truly believes that yesterday’s meeting should be written in American Samoa’s history when it comes to the election, because she is not aware of any past gubernatorial teams who were able to bring together other candidates to stand together due to the need for change in American Samoa.

She said Lolo spoke Sunday night at the “Salu and Savusa” headquarters to their supporters, families and friends, and they, along with their committee members were happy. She then urged “Salu and Savusa” supporters and committee to stand together for a change in government by voting Lolo and Lemanu.

Jones said that at the beginning of this election, “you saw candidates committed to change” under their own name, but the candidates all knew that they couldn’t all be in the run off.

“Today you see... the candidates that are committed to that change united under one name,” he said, adding that “change has to happen.”

“If we can commit to change — even if our name is not on it — if we told you we would make change, but our name can’t be on it, we can unite behind Lolo and Lemanu as a last hope for change, I hope you will see it is worth your time to come back to the polls and support the last hope for change.”

The final statement came from Fiu Johnny Saelua, chairman of the Lolo and Lemanu team, thanking the other gubernatorial teams for their support in their united stand for a change as voters in the territory return to the polls next Tuesday.