Veteran lawmaker Rep. Tautolo Charlie Agaoleatu retires from Fono
After two decades of public service, Rep. Tautolo Charlie Agaoleatu, has decided to retire and not seek re-election this year. Instead the lawmaker, who in the past few years, has been a vocal critic of government spending, has opted to spend more time on his business operations as well as look into new business ventures that will spur the local economy and provide new jobs.
Tautolo was first elected to the House following the 1990 general election and served his first two-year term in January 1991. Since then he has remained undefeated in the battle for the Saole District #4 seat that is now up for grabs with five candidates.
“I have decided to retire from public office after 11 consecutive terms to concentrate more efforts on my business obligations as well as exploring the possibility of any other type of new business venture,” said Tautolo, who will serve a total of 22 years in office, when his current term officially expires before 12 noon on Jan. 3, 2013.
“Among the goal of exploring other business investment is to boost our local economy and provide more employment opportunities. This would mean more money circulated in our territory,” said Tautolo in a telephone interview Saturday from Honolulu, where he is attending to some business matters as well as follow up on his physical therapy, following a hip replacement surgery not long ago.
“I am doing great and I’m healthy,” said Tautolo when asked how his health is doing nowadays.
Tautolo owns the McDonald’s fast food chain franchise in American Samoa — where additional staff was recently hired — and in neighboring Samoa. In October 2010, he was the recipient of the Chamber of Commerce ‘Business Person of the Year’.
He said his “two girls” — both now adult young businesswomen, run the business operations, but he still oversees everything. “So with my ‘two girls’ running the daily management of the business, I’ll focus on other business opportunities.”
Asked what type or kind of new business venture he’s targeting, Tautolo said, “there are a lot of business opportunities in American Samoa but we have to do it ourselves. Believe in it and make it happen. I truly believe that there are other business opportunity in American Samoa that can further grow our economy.”
Asked what advice he wants to offer to the new Legislature, which convenes on the second Monday of January 2013, Tautolo said, “my only advice is that our Fono leaders work closely and together with members of the House as well as senators.”
“You can only do so much as a lawmaker but if you don’t have the support of the [Fono] leaders, there is nothing much you can do,” he said. “As lawmakers, we are there to help not only our own constituents from our respective districts but to help the the territory as a whole. You have to work as a group in order to achieve better results for American Samoa.”
As for the upcoming House election, Tautolo said he hopes that more candidates “with a straight forward vision to serve the public” and not their own personal agenda are elected into office. “I wish all my incumbent colleagues the best,” he said and noted that he is still able to assist the public as a member of the private sector.
During his 22 years in the House, Tautolo has served in various capacities including chairman of the powerful House Budget and Appropriations Committee. Tautolo also served as vice speaker during the 30th Legislature (from 2007 - 2008) and in January 2009, during the 31st Legislature, he was unsuccessful in his bid for the Speakership post.