The second of our series on the US elections in the American Pacific territories and protectorates takes us to American Samoa.
The four gubernatorial teams that participated at the forum hosted by the Multi-Disciplinary Team on family violence in September at the Gov. H. Rex Lee Auditorium. [photo: JL]

Presenter: Richard Ewart
Speaker: Lewis Wolman, former editor of Samoa News

WOLMAN: All six teams profess that they will be the victors and nobody really knows. We don't have political polling in American Samoa this year, we've had it in the past. But this year we don't, and so it's very difficult to say which candidates are in the lead. We have a system where on our election next week if one candidate does not receive at least 50 per cent of the vote, there'll be a run-off between the top two candidates. And there are three candidates who are considered stronger than the other three. And so most everybody on the territory is anticipating that there will be no outright winner on November 6th, and that we'll have a run-off election between the top two vote getters, exactly two weeks later on November 20th.

EWART: It's interesting that you say there's been no pre-election polling in American Samoa this time. Here in Australia we seem to have polls coming out almost by the day and we haven't even got an election coming up just at the moment. So do you think that perhaps gives voters a sort of clearer run as it were to actually think things through for themselves and make their own decisions, rather than being influenced as I suspect a lot of people are here, by the opinion polls?

WOLMAN: I think it gives the candidates a clearer run, but it gives the voters a clearer run as well, because most voters here want to vote with the winner for a variety of reasons. And by not knowing who the front-runners are, people are in a position to decide who they want to vote for, as opposed to just jumping on the bandwagon of who they think will be the winner.

EWART: Now my understanding is that the vote is being seen as something of a referendum for the Sunia family. They're described as the Kennedys of American Samoa. Are they likely to be in the top jobs after the election do you think?

WOLMAN: Well one of those three top candidates is a Sunia, he's the present Lieutenant Governor for the last eight years, and for the eight years before this gentleman, Faoa, for the eight years before he was serving as Lieutenant Governor, his brother Tauese Sunia was serving as the Governor. So we go back 16 years with either a Sunia as the Governor or the Lieutenant Governor, and a third brother, Fofo Sunia served as American Samoa's representative in the US Congress prior to that time. So he's certainly one of three leading candidates, and I do agree that this election is somewhat of a referendum about whether or not to extend this long period of time when one Sunia or the other has been the congressman or the Governor or the Lieutenant Governor, and of course that both can help him and hurt him. There are many people who feel that there's been enough of the Sunias leading the government, and then there's a lot of people who have benefitted and enjoyed the work that they've done and would like to see them continue.


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