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Utu announces his run for governor's post in 2012

rhonda@samoanews.com
Utu Abe Malae

Utu Abe Malae officially announced via teleconference to a group of his supporters on Monday night Aug. 15, 2011 that he will run for Governor in the 2012 gubernatorial election.

The long-awaited announcement was welcomed by the group of 30 past and new supporters that have long awaited his decision.

Teleconferencing from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands where he currently serves as the Executive Director of the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation (CUC), Utu told his supporters that after consultation with the Governor of CNMI, Governor Benigno Fitial gave his full support for Utu to run for Governor of American Samoa in 2012.

Utu is expected to officially leave his CEO position in early 2012, to return home to American Samoa to concentrate on his gubernatorial campaign.

In a recent interview with Utu, after his announcement, Utu stated: “I want to thank all my family, friends, our traditional leaders, church leaders and our people near and far who have encouraged me and asked me to run for Governor. I am inspired to run for Governor because of your support and faith in me, but also I am inspired to run because I want to be your Governor to help our people. I want to make a difference to ensure that the security of our children and our families’ future is not compromised anymore. I will do the right thing and serve in the best interest of all our people and not just a select few.”

(Samoa News understands Utu is not ready to announce who his  lieutenant governor will be on the gubernatorial ticket.)

Reflecting on his previous run for governor in 2008, he said, “In 2008, I ran because I felt a strong duty to help our people. Since then, I have come to realize and appreciate more than ever the need for honest and effective leadership for our government.”

Utu commented on the current economic climate in the territory saying, “the federal government is making significant cuts on future spending, we remain a high-risk territory, the average family is finding it very difficult to keep up with the rising costs of living, businesses are hurting and many people are looking for jobs.”

He said, “I will work to provide excellent government services for all our people, to provide leadership that our people and the federal government will trust, to provide fair compensation and benefits for all our government employees and to create a supportive environment for new and continuing businesses to grow and create more jobs. Our territory needs a proven and effective manager as Governor to fix the various problems in our government.” 

Utu continued, “Our government needs to be a responsible, transparent and accountable steward of the resources of our territory. We are at a critical point in our relationship with the federal government as they have been scrutinizing our territory's failure to effectively manage federal funding opportunities. We need to put a leadership team in ASG that can win back the confidence of the federal government in our ability to properly use federal funds.”

CMNI

Samoa News asked about Utu’s work in CMNI and why he took the position, leaving his senate seat for Sa’ole county in the Fono. Many residents have noted Utu’s leaving and not staying to help the territory, especially in these trying times.

Utu explained that in 2009, while he was Senator for Sa’ole county in the Fono, the government of CNMI asked him to come to the CNMI to help turn around its failing utilities corporation (CUC) that had been placed under a consent decree by the federal court and government. Knowing that he could help and feeling great compassion for the people of the CNMI who were suffering from irregular utility services and environmental damage, he made the difficult decision to accept the calling from the CNMI government to help the recovery and rebuilding of the CUC utility.

(Utu’s 2012 Election Committee told Samoa News that their candidate’s ‘well-known’ reputation as a manager is based on his previous experience in successfully turning ASPA around from chronic power outages and insolvency in 1986 where he managed ASPA for 18 years even while seconded to other organizations.)

Before making the final decision to work in CNMI, Utu said that in late 2009 he met with his village of Amouli and Sa’ole county to ask for their blessing to make his formal withdrawal as the Sa’ole county's Senator in order to help the people of the CNMI.

Because it was still Amouli's term to hold the Senate seat, HTC of Amouli Fuata Dr. I’atala was chosen to be the next Senator from Sa’ole. Utu then formally gave his farewell to the Sa’ole county and Senate as well and received the village and county chiefs' blessings on his move to help the people of the CNMI. 

Utu started as the Assistant Executive Director of Operations for the CUC (in charge of all the technical side of the utility). After the then Executive Director’s retirement, the job of Executive Director was prescribed by the USEPA and was advertised nationally; a final three were selected, which included Utu, and they were vetted by EPA and CUC for the position. Governor Fitial selected Utu in November 2010 as the new utilities CEO.

BACKGROUND — FROM 2012 UTU COMMITTEE

Prior to serving as the Senator from Sa’ole in the Fono, the team of Utu and former House Speaker Nua Saoluaga ran and came in second in the gubernatorial run-off election in 2008.

Utu Abe Malae has served in the cabinet of every elected Governor of American Samoa: Gov. Uifaatali Coleman, Gov. A.P. Lutali, Gov. Tauese Sunia and Gov. Togiola Tulafono.

While CEO of the American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA) Utu was seconded to also serve as Department of Public Works Director, 1986, 1995; LBJ Hospital CEO in 1995 - 1997; Department of Port Administration Director in 1999 - 2002, and spent 18 years as ASPA’s chief executive from 1986 to 2004.

In 2004 – 2008 he was appointed by Togiola to be the President of the Development Bank of American Samoa (DBAS).

Utu is the High Chief of Amouli village and keeps his official residence in Petesa, Tafuna.

He is the son of the late Reverend Toea’ina Pita Malae (from Ofu and Manua) and Tina Fiapa’ipa’i Utu Malae (from Amouli, Asili and Moataa). Utu has 11 siblings. His mother Tina Fesilafa’i Lutu Malae resides at the family home in Honolulu.

Utu holds three Masters degrees and is a former teacher at the local DOE.

He has committed his life and professional career to serving the people and Government of American Samoa and to serving his community in various capacities.

Utu is a deacon of the Amouli EFKAS, a Rotarian and served on the ASCC Board of Higher Education, PiCED and the Malaeimi Manumalo Baptist School Board. He plays the flute and is an avid reader.



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