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LEVU TULAFONO F. SOLAITA JR. SELECTED TO FILL VACANT SENATE SEAT

fili@samoanews.com
Levu Tulafono F. Solaita Jr. [courtesy photo]

The Nu’uuli Village Council has selected former lawmaker Levu Tulafono F. Solaita Jr.  as its next senator to fill the seat left vacant due to the passing last month of the late Sen. Seui Laau Sr., who was one of the two senators for Ituau County (comprising Nu’uuli, Fagasa, Matu’u and Faganeanea).

Local statute states that when vacancies occur in the Senate, the Governor, or the person exercising the functions of Governor, shall issue “writs of special election” to fill such vacancies, except that if any such vacancy occurs within 3 months of the next regular election, no special election may be held, and the Governor shall appoint a qualified person to fill such vacancy.

Gov. Togiola Tulafono issued the Writ of Special Election dated Feb. 18 calling for holding a special election to select a traditional leader to fill the current vacancy. Togiola said the decision should be certified by the County Chief and such Certification be returned to the governor for submission to the Senate.

When contacted late yesterday morning for comment, Nu’uuli traditional leader Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono confirmed to Samoa News that the village council reached a decision during Sunday’s village gathering, selecting Levu, who will serve out the rest of the months in the last year of Seui’s term in office — which officially expires before 12noon on Jan. 3, 2013.

“We have all the confidence and trust in Levu T. Solaita to serve in the Senate representing Ituau county,” Soliai said in a brief telephone interview. “He will represent our village and county well in the chamber of traditional leaders.”

Levu served in the House for about 14 years as one of the two lawmakers for Tualauta county. He served one term as House Vice Speaker during the tenure of then House Speaker Saoluaga T. Nua.

He also worked within the Executive Branch including his term as director of the Department of Parks and Recreation during the Coleman Administration. His work background also notes working for the federal government for many years.

Levu, whose father, the late Levu Solaita served as senator for Ituau a couple of years ago, is currently serving as chief advisor to the local office for Congressman Faleomavaega Eni. He has held this post at the Congressman’s Office for seven years.

“I feel good, blessed and happy with the village council’s consensus decision. I appreciate it very much and extend to everyone a heartfelt fa’afetai tele,” Levu said in a short telephone interview yesterday afternoon. “We have so much to do at the Fono, especially with the issue dealing with the LBJ Medical Center. I’m anxious to share my assistance with fellow senators.”

With the Fono now in a two-week recess, Levu being sworn into office will probably not take place until after lawmakers reconvene Mar. 26. Levu was in the Senate gallery yesterday morning during the Senate session. He usually attends Fono sessions — and sometimes important hearings — on behalf of the Congressman.



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