Analysis: Tim Jones' thoughts on the election
Last Thursday, Tim Jones posted on his Facebook page that he had contacted the Lolo and Lemanu campaign and told them “I will do whatever they need to push them through.” Jones believes “it is critical” that Lolo and Lemanu win because they are the remaining “team for change.”
He believes that there must be a change amongst “the directors of this Government who selfishly run their departments like their own family business.” That change can only happen now if Lolo wins, the former gubernatorial candidate said.
As was revealed in Tuesday’s Samoa News, Tim Jones and his running mate Tuika Tuika have formally endorsed Lolo Moliga in the November 20 election runoff.
Elsewhere on his Facebook page, Jones said that “the election results came as a big surprise to me. I finished so poorly that it makes no sense to me at all. My platform on Energy, Health Care, Economy and Immigration was rock solid and in my opinion, far ahead of any other candidates. In the last two months with debates and forums with other candidates, my campaign seemed to take off and gain great popularity.”
Prior to the results on November 6, Jones believed he was in at least 3rd place and was “a contender for the run-off.” He wrote, “in the beginning I had no delusional that I could win this. But that changed over the past two months, when our TV appearances gained us huge popularity. (So I thought). People I did not know repeatedly and consistently told me we won every forum and every TV debate. They said people were on my side. I believed them because I didn’t know them and [could not imagine] why would they lie. I allowed this to create some delusions that the issues mattered.”
After learning he had placed 6th, with 189 votes out of 13,000 ballots cast, Jone asked himself the rhetorical question, “How could I have been so wrong? Was I naive in thinking that the issues were Energy Cost, Health Care, Economy and Immigration? Was I blind or just plain stupid in thinking that when people said I won every forum and every debate on the issues that they were sincere and I had made sense?”
Jones concluded that “people want a who-you-know Government and free stuff with options for personal gain through corruption.”
He speculated that his “firm position on immigration (might have) scared people with foreign parents. American Samoa has been deeply penetrated by foreign immigration and that no doubt was on people’s minds when I said I would slam the door on illegal immigration.”
He also speculated that “maybe people didn’t believe I could do what I said I could do with energy and health care.” (Jones had plans to reduce the cost of energy by half or more by using an alternative energy known as OTEC, Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion. And he promised to restore free health care.)
Looking forward, Jones believes that “since my view of the problems and the solutions are geared more to fixing our government and less about getting votes, I could probably never win. I’m not able to lie or even bend the truth about what I believe are the problems and solutions in American Samoa. The Voters seem to prefer sugar-coated BS. I just can’t be that. Hence. why I am an engineer and not a politician by trade.”
The former candidate says he is not sorry that he ran. “I accomplished what I originally set out to do. I set out to address the issues… and deal with them in a firm way (and) I did that… I’m just feeling a little stupid for changing my mind in the past couple of months that people were listening to me and I had a chance to win or would at least put up some good numbers. Silly me.”
The most important thing, Jones said, is that “I embrace democracy and the right of the people to choose their leader. There is nothing more important than that. Not my ideas. Not who is qualified or who can do the best job. The number one thing that makes me happy is that I live in a society where people get to choose their leaders. And that … is good enough for me. I was happy to be a candidate in that process.”
Reflecting on his campaign, Jones noted that a successful candidate needs money. “The Media won’t do anything for you without cash up front. Signs and name recognition items are huge expenses. The two front runners spent about $400,000 (Samoa News note: this figure has not been verified). I spent under $10k. That means that the top offices for Government are really for sale. It is next to impossible for good average men to run a successful campaign because the media outlet is not financially accessible.” He added, “The best way to get free media is to get arrested for something. They cover the crap out of that. LOL. Everything else cost money. Our top offices are for sale via the media. Sad but true.”
He wrote that “it might be a positive thing to level the campaign field of play by making some sort of general fund that candidates can use equally for media time. And forbid campaign media spending beyond that fund. Or, force media to give equal time to everyone. In other words, if they sell time to one candidate, they have to offer that time free to others.”
Although Jones is not sure how his idea might be accomplished, he said, “I just think the end result should be equal media time for all candidates and stop the media from selling our top offices of Government for profit.”