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ENI'S ADVICE TO NEXT ADMIN — STAY IN TOUCH "WE HAVE TO WORK TOGETHER"

fili@samoanews.com
In one of their rare photos together, Faleomavaega and Governor Togiola sing Samoan songs in the Congressman’s Washington office, on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 as they celebrate the Governor's birthday. The Congressman surprised the Governor with a birthday cake and refreshments after their meeting to discuss a number of important issues affecting American Samoa. [photo: Faleomavaega’s Office]

Accountability’ and ‘transparency’ were two words used most often in this year’s gubernatorial campaign, says Congressman Faleomavaega Eni, who then suggested that the new administration implement policies addressing these two words which the people are sick and tired of hearing (unless there is action to follow).

Faleomavaega, who was re elected in Tuesday’s general election to a 13th term in the U.S. House of Representatives, spoke about the gubernatorial race and other issues during a brief interview Wednesday morning while he was on the roadside fronting Utulei Beach, waiving thank you to voters for re-electing him to another term in office.

He said the final important question in this year’s election, is who is going to be the new governor of the territory.

Whoever the people of American Samoa choose to be the next governor, Faleomavaega said, he looks forward to working with the new administration next year, which is also when the new Fono leadership takes office.

“We need to get our act together. We just cannot afford to continue to be divisive, just as we find the situation in our national government,” said Faleomavaega amid motorists honking horns in response to the Congressman’s sign on the road saying “Thank You American Samoa”.

Prior to the general election “there was a lot of speculation about who was going to win”, he said, adding that American Samoa is now in a “very, very interesting situation” with the gubernatorial run off election set for Nov. 20.

“...there is no question that we got two good candidates” for the governor’s race, he said. "And there’s going to have to be some real choices that our people are going to have to make in terms of style, in terms of leadership, and in terms of what kind of commitment these two candidates are going to make, not just in rhetoric and words, but in actual commitment to make this government more accountable and more transparent,” said Faleomavaega.

“Every candidate [in the race] has always mentioned these two words, but I think our people are sick and tired of hearing them, he said, adding that the main question now is — how is this “transparency and accountability” going to be accomplished by the new governor and his administration?

And hopefully, said the Congressman, he will be consulted in some of these and other local issues “Because often times, I’m sad to say, this is not what has been happening. I’m not suggesting that I should always ‘be’ consulted, but if we have to work with Washington — common courtesy, as it is with all members of Congress — we’ve got to work with the member who represents that state or territory,” he said.

Faleomavaega went on to point out that although, traditionally, there are three branches of the American Samoa Government, it seems that the Congressman’s Office is not included in many of the issues that come up locally, or even consulted.

“But as a reminder, to our people, there are only two positions that our people vote on as a whole, as a territory, as a nation — and that’s the governor and the Congressman,” he said. “The difference here, obviously is that, the Congressman is the highest elected federal official in the territory, and the governor is the highest elected local official, as it pertains to local issues, local government.”

“So we have got to work together. Of course, we will always have differences of opinion about issues — and it's always the case and it should be,” he said. “But that shouldn’t prevent us from continued communication — because if we don’t communicate it will make it more difficult to solve some of these issues faced by American Samoa.”

According to the Congressman, the governor heads the territorial government and if the governor and a local delegation travel to Washington D.C.. they can meet with any congressional member, or even with the federal administration. However, he suggests that the local officials — when visiting the nation’s capital — should consider what is in the mind of their congressional representative.

“It's the idea that we really need to consult with each other,” he said.

Meanwhile, the congressman said that he had two issues he “really wanted” electors in American Samoa to decide on over the last two years but which have never been considered by the local government.

“Tell us if you want to become a U.S. citizen or not. I also want to know if our people are satisfied with the current political status — and this a fundamental question that has never been answered for the last 112 years,” he said, adding that he hopes these two important questions are considered by the government when the next general election occurs in two years time.



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