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Attorney Afoa Leulumoega Su’esu’e Lutu yesterday declared he is running for Governor of American Samoa in the coming general election. Afoa, a High Chief of Utulei, has chosen for his running mate, Le’i Sonny Thompson a ranking orator of Ofu, Manua and currently Director of Administrative Services.

This will be Afoa’s fifth time running in the gubernatorial race, twice as lieutenant governor and this third time for governor. Afoa and Le’i made the announcement yesterday at Afoa’s residence in Utulei, which is also their campaign headquarters.

Speaking with Samoa News, Afoa said the decision to enter the race for governor of American Samoa is because he believes that his team can make a difference.

Afoa noted that he and his partner Le’i have the same views and vision, and they think alike. He added that he has faith in Le’i and together they can take this government to the next level.

The High Chief from Utulei added that the move to run again came after much soul searching and a strong aspiration for the American Samoa people to have a better government than they currently have.

Afoa is a private lawyer specializing in land and title matters, and is currently the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Korea in the territory. He is also the Executive Director for the Constitutional Review Committee Staff.

He has served as Chief Legislative Counsel and Director of the Legislative Reference Bureau (1997-2004); Special Legal Counsel to the Speaker of the House (1996-97);  Special Legal Counsel for Senate President (1989-92) and from 1992-1996 served in the House of Representatives, from District 7- Ma’oputasi (villages of Utulei, Gataivai and Fagaalu)

Earlier in his career (1985-1989) he served as the Attorney General for ASG.

Also listed in his resume are the posts of Chief Legal Counsel for the American Samoa Constitutional Convention (1986) and Instructor, Juvenile Justice at ASCC.

Afoa received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Hawaii, and his Juris Doctor degree from Valparaiso University Law School. He first opened his private law practice in the territory in 1975.

Afoa said of his team, “We’re both educated, we also have the wisdom to carry out our duties if elected into office and we have been public servants for a very long time.”

He said, if given the chance, his administration will choose the best of the best.

“We will give everyone a chance — it will be an equal opportunity for everyone — of course there will be procedures to be followed, but everyone will be given the chance, no matter where you come from.”

Afoa said that through the years he has seen what goes on in the government, and through the years, there have been no changes. He noted that he has made his own life, has a great family and good children, and yet he still believes that he can make a difference in government.

“All we want is a chance to help out the people, to make a difference, and to me character is important... the preservation of  the integrity of the government and the process of government are important to us.”

Samoa News queried Afoa as to why he keeps on running in the gubernatorial election as he has lost in previous years.

He replied “I believe I can make a difference, I believe that I can assist to take this government and take this country to another level, and so I looked for someone to who I think can help me make it work”. Afoa said he’s happy and pleased to have Le’i Sonny Thompson as his running mate, as he shares the same passion, views, commitment and vision.

 “I’ve known Le’i for a very long time and I have confidence in his leadership abilities. Together Le’i and I can make a better government.”  

Afoa asks the people of American Samoa to give them a chance. “We are confident that with God’s guidance, blessings and the people of American Samoa’s support, together we can make a difference in serving our people."

Le’i is a honorably retired officer from the US Air Force, with 21 years of service in the rank of Major. He has also been Manager of Safety, Health and Security with StarKist Samoa and is currently serving as ASG Director of Administrative Services.

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in education from Southern Illinois University and also holds a Master’s of Science degree in Human Resources management development from Chapman University in Orange County, California.

Le’i told Samoa News that he has yet to notify Governor Togiola Tulafono of his decision, however he has made a commitment to the government and he will serve until it is time for him to resign.