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On the Campaign Trail 2012

AFOA AND LE’I CELEBRATE 4TH WITH VOLLEYBALL TOURNEY

Candidates Afoa & Le'i celebrated July 4th, US Independence Day with more than 1000 youth and their families during the “Afoa & Le'i Youth Team Beach Volleyball Tournament” held at Utulei Beach. Organized as a fun-filled day for youth and their families, candidates Afoa & Le'i were happy to commemorate the U.S. independence day with our future generations during this beach day.

Volleyball teams that wished to compete during the 1-day tournament were offered a challenging competition by other volleyball enthusiasts and the fierce competition between 50 co-ed teams ended with a Satala village team taking 1st place, Fagaalu village in 2nd, and Vatia village taking 3rd place. The top 3 teams were awarded cash prizes for placing at the top of this competition. See photo below.

Source: Aofa-Le'i campaign committee

400 FAOA-TAUFETE’E SUPPORTERS TURN OUT FOR WAVE

The Youth Committee for Gubernatorial Candidates Faoa and Taufete’e had a ‘Wave’ Tuesday afternoon in front of Utulei Beach Park which drew close to 400 supporters. See photo below.

Source: Faoa-Taufete'e campaign committee

CHAMBER QUESTIONS TEAM SALU-SAVUSA ON LONG STANDING ISSUES

by Fili Sagapolutele

Tourism, energy initiative review, stray dog problem, cabinet directors, minimum wage and the right of non -U.S. nationals to vote here are some of the issues that members of the Chamber of Chamber raised two weeks ago during a meeting with gubernatorial team of Dr. Salu Hunkin-Finau, candidate for governor and running mate, Utuali’i Iuniasolua T. Savusa, candidate for lieutenant.

Businessman Tom Drabble, who also owns two hotels, noted with concern the “meager” budget for the two staff at the Visitor’s Bureau and these two individuals are doing a lot of work. He also says there is no major move by the government to promote American Samoa.

When talking abut tourism, “you need people who are trained in hotel and this goes back to align the needs for economic development with education,” said Dr. Hunkin-Finau. “There are a lot of students that may be interested in this area and should be given the opportunity.”

She agreed to having sufficient funds for the Visitor's Bureau to properly fund its operations, as well as carrying out a full assessment of the office’s needs.

Drabble noted that there is a need to “create demand” by advertising and marketing American Samoa. “Our market  is Australia and New Zealand not the U.S.” he said adding that tourists love the beauty of American Samoa.

Businessman and chairman of the Shipyard Services Authority, Carlos Sanchez suggested “commercial tourism”, who are people with money to spend, and Hunkin-Finau agreed saying that this is similar to residents and business people from Samoa traveling here to do their shopping.

“It makes sense and it’s something that we should look into,” she said of Carlos’ idea. “This is in additional to the regular tourists”

Drabble said tourism is a “golden opportunity” for American Samoa as people look for unique opportunities. For example, the recent fishing tournament hosted by the territory attracted a good number of visitors.  He also suggested getting the ‘tramway” up and running again.

For the energy initiative, StarKist Samoa general manager Brett Butler called on the candidates — if they are elected — to look at implementing a comprehensive energy initiative for American Samoa. He also said that he agreed with Utuali’i’s comments to the Chamber that the American Samoa Power Authority and the Territorial Energy Office are not working closely together.

He said politics is holding back good energy initiatives. And urged the team to have “transparency” in their administration if they are elected.

The problem of stray dogs was raised by business woman Isabel Hudson, who asked what the team plans to do to address this problem.

Utuali’i, who told the private sector that he was personally bitten by a dog when he was out running in the morning, said this is an issue of priority that needs to be addressed because it affects tourism in the territory. “It’s a problem and we need to fix it,” he said and described stray dogs as creating havoc on the road, when people are walking down the street.

Hunkin-Finau added that “this problem is not new” and recalled someone back in the 1980s talking about eliminating all of the stray dogs, “but we still have this problem...and its an ongoing problem.”

Ethan Lake asked  to reveal any names of the people - even from among those attending the Chamber meeting -  they plan to hire as cabinet director if elected.

“I have not gone that far in actual naming the people,” was Hunkin-Finau’s reply, adding that they would look at people with qualifications and quality to lead.

Lake pressed on — “if you were to win, would you consider any of the other candidates to be part of your administration?” to which Hunkin-Finau replied: “With quality leadership, of course.”

A question from a Chamber member sought the team’s opinion on the minimum wage issue and Hunkin-Finau replied that minimum wage has had its impact on the business community with its hike in pay, and this issue remains pending in Congress with a move to delay it again.

“We’d like to look at it closely, get everybody involved,” she said.

Another Chamber member asked about the team’s position on non U.S. nationals who have lived here, pay taxes and have made American Samoa their home, but cannot vote. “What can you do to change the law to allow” non U.S. nationals to vote here? the member asked.

“That’s a very  sensitive question and has been around for years,” said Hunkin-Finau who agreed that there are many residents of the territory that have lived here for years and pay taxes but still cannot vote.

She also stated that having non American Samoa become U.S. nationals is a “federal issue” and if elected, “we would like to work with our Congressional people to see where this can be addressed.”

Congressman Faleomavaega Eni had submitted to the governor and the Fono a draft federal proposal to allow four categories of local residents who were not born here, to be U.S. nationals - which would then give these individuals the right to vote in local elections.

Courtesy Photo
Courtesy Photo


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