On the Campaign Trail 2012
SALU & SAVUSA HOLD THEIR FIRST MAJOR PUBLIC CAMPAIGN FUNCTION
CALLS FOR A SEMI AUTONOMOUS DOE IN AMERICAN SAMOA
by Fili Sagapolutele
The gubernatorial team of “Salu and Savusa” is calling for creating a semi autonomous Department of Education in American Samoa to fully address educational needs of students as well as further improve classroom teaching without the involvement of politics.
The team of Dr. Salu Hunkin-Finau, candidate for governor and Utuali’i Iuniasolua Savusa, candidate for lieutenant governor, met with supporters, friends and family members last Saturday at Utulei Beach Park for the team’s “Family Rally”, which was their first major public campaign function.
Dr. Salu told Samoa News, late Friday afternoon that Salu and Savusa held their official campaign kick off in late February this year at her home in Vailoa as an “Open House". In keeping with their desire to not place more burden on the community, through public fundraisers.
Under the team’s campaign theme of “Ua O’o i le Taimi”, or “Now is the time”, Utuali’i, who first addressed the rally, said “now is the time”:
• to develop a government that is “more responsive” to the needs of the people, who should enjoy peace and prosperity;
• for the government to audit themselves, including a complete audit of the Immigration and Customs offices;
• to establish a functional ASG motor pool to account for all vehicles, especially after hours, except for certain vehicles such as those used by directors, police, EMS, and top leaders in the three branches of government;
• to demolish the “eye sore in the bay area”, the Rainmaker hotel and get a new development in place by the private sector, as well as rebuild the cable car and first rate cabins or a restaurant on top of the hill with the goal to attract tourists. As part of tourism development, fix all trails in the territory to attract hikers;
• to fully fund the American Samoa Visitor’s Bureau, in order to give them adequate staff and support for marketing the territory as a destination
• for the government to use our territory as a duty free port to the U.S. to our advantage, and as a hub for transport of goods in the region; and,
• for government to fully provide the right subsidies to the LBJ Medical Center but at the same time, review all proposals to privatize the government owned hospital.
Utuali’i also touched on issues pertaining to the local education system, saying it’s the belief of the “Salu and Savusa” team that DOE should be a semi autonomous agency with the goal of focusing on further improving education in the territory without the influence of politics.
A semi autonomous DOE was also supported by Hunkin-Finau, who stated that this is necessary if American Samoa is to have an excellent education system for future generations.
Hunkin-Finau, a long time educator and former president of the American Samoa Community College, had a long speech for the crowd but opted to cut it short and cited just a few points, saying it had been a long day for those in the audience.
She recalled a recent visit to Aunu’u, where she was met by a gentleman who has worked for the government for almost 28 years, but his annual pay is only $9,000. She said this has to change and this is the reason the team does not hold public fundraisers, because families are already faced with financial shortfalls in their own surroundings.
Salu said that the government must stop overspending its budget every year and abide by what was passed by the Fono and signed into law. She spoke briefly about government loans and said that a new administration and future generations will “carry the burden” of paying these loans.
As for the private sector, she said the government needs to “stop meddling in the private sector” but added legislation should be passed to provide fair taxes of local businesses for them to be able to grow and hire more people from the community.
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE SCHEDULES 2012 ELECTION FORUM FOR SEPT 27
NEXT ONE-ON-ONE FOR TEAM LOLO & LEMANU: AUG 2
by Fili Sagapolutele
The Chamber of Commerce has firmed up the last week of September for the business organization’s public forum debate with gubernatorial teams for this year’s general election and Chamber members are being asked to prepare for this event. The Chamber board have their own questions prepared for the debate, which is expected to cover a variety of issues affecting American Samoa today and heading into the future.
Chamber chairman David Robinson told members last Thursday that Sept. 27 is confirmed for the public forum at the Governor Rex Lee Auditorium. He said this year’s gubernatorial race is so very important to the territory, as voters will elect a new administration who will sit next January for the next four years.
Robinson spoke about the public forum and other Chamber issues prior to hearing from the gubernatorial candidate for governor Save Liuato Tuitele and his running mate, candidate for lieutenant governor, Tofoitaufa Sandra King Young during a meeting last Thursday with the private sector.
After the Chamber meeting Robinson thanked the “Save and Sandra” team, saying that the feed back from members was encouraging for the fact that the gubernatorial hopefuls’ economic plans calls for, among other things, working closely with the private sector and attracting new investments in order to create new jobs and “strengthen our weak economy.”
The next gubernatorial team to address the Chamber on economic development issues will be candidate for governor Lolo Letalu Matalasi Moliga and his running mate, candidate for lieutenant governor, Sen. Lemanu Peleti S. Mauga and this is set for Aug. 2 at the Tradewinds Hotel Naumati Room.
The Chamber executive board has again encouraged all members to take advantage of these meetings to hear what the candidates have to say , and to let the candidates hear what the business community thinks should be done to improve the local economy.
OTHER CHAMBER ISSUES
Other information shared by Robinson last Thursday concerned a briefing on the executive board’s meeting last Monday with Indonesia’s Ambassador to the United States, Dr. Dino Patti Djalal. Robinson recounted for the group Dr. Djalal’s news about finalizing a sister-city agreement between American Samoa and his country’s North Sulawesi province. He also shared the ambassador’s offer regarding a scholarship for two American Samoa Community College graduates, training for a local law enforcement official in Indonesia and assistance for our Department of Agriculture by sending an expert to conduct a workshop in the territory.
“This is a very interesting development” for the Chamber and American Samoa,” Robinson said and noted Indonesia’s population is largely Muslim, but North Sulawesi has a large Christian population.
“We should be taking full advantage of what Indonesia... is offering” and the Chamber board will work with the Governor’s office to “capitalize on these opportunities,” said Robinson, who was invited by Djalal to visit Indonesia, including North Sulawesi — whose major industries are agriculture, fisheries and tourism. (See last Tuesday’s edition of Samoa News for more details on the Chamber meeting with Djalal)