Senate unanimously approves Tuaolo as Chief Election Officer
Former police commissioner Tuaolo Manaia Fruean is now officially confirmed by the Fono as the new chief election officer, after the Senate gave him unanimous approval in a 13-0 vote yesterday. Last month the House gave its endorsement for Tuaolo to serve in this post, which according to local law, is a three-year term once approved by the Fono.
Prior to the Senate vote, Tuaolo appeared before the Senate Government Operations Committee for his confirmation hearing, where he was praised by senators who pointed out that the nominee is well qualified for the post.
Senators also stated that Tuaolo’s previous post was as police commissioner and he had also served in the Senate for some eight years.
Former chief election officer and current Sen. Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono recalled that every time he had appeared before the Senate for confirmation hearings (for the chief election officer post) Tuaolo — when Tuaolo was a senator — gave Soliai many suggestions, and had urged him to remember the importance of the Election Office, which is charged with territorial elections.
Soliai said the Election Office is criticized and faced with many complaints every election year, and he asked Tuaolo to remember the importance of the Election Office with the 2014 general election not far away.
He wished Tuaolo the best in his new post and asked the nominee to always remember honesty in this office.
Sen. Nua Saoluaga spoke to Tuaolo about the problems faced by his constituents in Manu’a every election year, saying there is no Election Office in Manu'a to carry out voter registration and to assist residents there with other election matters.
He reminded that residents have to travel to Tutuila for these issues but there is always a problem with transport services to Tutuila. Additionally, residents of Manu’a are forced to pay fares to come to Tutuila, he said, and asked the nominee how he plans to assist Manu’a residents.
Tuaolo said if the Election Office’s fiscal year 2014 budget is approved, it includes two positions to man Election Office branches on Ofu and Ta’u islands. He says there will be one staff member on each island.
Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie said he was very pleased that Tuaolo, a traditional leader and former senator, was appointed to the governor’s cabinet. Gaoteote said it seems the governor’s cabinet are all young and the governor needed a traditional leader and father figure such as Tuaolo to advise the governor on various issues during difficult times.
Gaoteote’s statement was also echoed by other senators, saying this is an important aspect in an administration.
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