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On the Campaign Trail 2012

Team Save and Sandra talk about their vision during Fiafia night
Team Save Liuato Tuitele and Tofoitaufa Sandra King Young held a fiafia night last Friday night at the Lee Auditorium. [photo: JL]

by Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu

 “American Samoa will be the jewel of the Pacific, a world class US territory in all areas, a vibrant center of commerce, and a premier travel destination.” This is the message from Team Save Liuato Tuitele and Tofoitaufa Sandra King Young during their fiafia night last Friday night at the Lee Auditorium.

The fiafia night with dancing and entertainment from the campaign committees of different villages, and was packed with supporters, friends and families of Save and Sandra.

Sandra who was the first to speak at the function, noted that before making a commitment to run with Save in the Gubernatorial race, she asked Save if he could reconsider the motto he chose, “ Ia fai le amio tonu ma ia naunau ile alofa” (to do what is right and to love mercy).

Sandra said however Save said the motto he chose is from the holy bible in the book of Micah six: verse eight, which states, “This is what the LORD requires from you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to live humbly with your God.”

Sandra explained that upon reading the verse, she understood why Save chose this motto because it has a deep meaning to it.

She said prior to walking in the villages; Save had a rule of not buying the ballots. Sandra said, “Because we believe that if we buy the ballots now what will happen when we are in office, this will continue.”

But there are times, Save will give the old ladies $5 or $10 — to families who are living in shacks, said Sandra. “He does that because Save is a loving person.”

Save acknowledged the hard work of the campaign committees in different villages, as well as families and friends who are supporting them. He also acknowledged the assistance from his wife Sarah Haleck and Sandra’s husband Filifaiesea Seumanu Peter Young.

Save said “We are a team that will bring good things for this government and the people of American Samoa; we are an honest and loving team and we have the capabilities to lead this government.”

Save said that a majority of people in their camp are not able to attend the public functions given that they are scared for their employment, especially with the government.

“We believe we are more than capable to lead this government given the situation the government is currently in, we believe that we are more than capable than other gubernatorial candidates.”

He said that other candidates have ties to the current government given that they worked with them. “However with Sandra and me, neither of us have any ties to the previous or the current government,” said Save. He added that the past 16 to 20 years is enough and there should be a change in the government of American Samoa.

“I want to be able to have my children and grandchildren grow up in a different government, given that the current government has no money, many debts, and no availabilities for the youth to gain employment.”

Save asked, is this the type of government you want your children to grow up in?

He added that if anyone believes that the current government is good enough, try walking into the back villages, like Alao, Tula and also those villages in Manu’a.

“We were in Ofu last week and I was amazed at what is happening in Manu’a, there is no boat between Ofu and Fitiuta Manu’a; residents are using an alia to travel back and forth. Every time people are on that alia, their lives are in jeopardy it’s not safe and there should be changes, because this is the responsibility of the government,” said Save.

Team Save and Sandra told supporters, “We are leaders with vision, and having a vision for American Samoa is about articulating our hopes and dreams for the future; reminding us of what we are trying to build and setting the direction for what we do in life; it’s a goal, a destination for a journey that helps us plan the best route and it’s about the possibility for greatness in ourselves, our government and in our future… We believe in the potential of our people, our government and our territory to be the best island territory in the region.”

After 37 years in uniform, Army veteran turns eye to politics

by Nancy Montgomery, Stars and Stripes 

He’d worn it for almost 37 years, with its wall of medals, badges, ribbons and tabs testimony to his career: decades as an infantry soldier, an Army Ranger, whose four combat tours found him lobbing grenades in Iraq and making helicopter landings under fire in Afghanistan.

On Dec. 31, Sgt. Maj. Iuniasolua Savusa finally hung up his uniform.

He relaxed for three days. Then he put on a skirt and got back to work.

Not just any skirt — a lava-lava.

A lava-lava is a traditional garment sort of like a kilt worn in American Samoa, the U.S. territory in the South Pacific that Savusa left as a 17-year-old to make his way in the world.

In the Army, Savusa excelled. He was a scout platoon leader, Ranger school honor graduate, drill sergeant, first sergeant, air assault instructor and jumpmaster. He served as command sergeant major for deployed airborne and air assault infantry units before becoming the top enlisted soldier for U.S. Army Europe, the U.S. and NATO commands in Afghanistan and the U.S. Pacific Command.

Now Savusa, 54, is running to be American Samoa’s lieutenant governor. Wearing the lava-lava goes with the job.

Five candidates are vying to be elected governor Nov. 6 in the nonpartisan race which, due to term limits, is without an incumbent.

Savusa is running with the only female candidate.

He had declined previous offers while on active duty from two other prospective gubernatorial candidates, both men, to join their tickets.

“I was not impressed,” Savusa said in a recent phone interview, conducted in a car at 10 p.m. American Samoa time after a day of campaigning. “They were running for what they wanted to do and forgetting the people.”

Then, on the fourth day of his retirement, Salu Hunkin-Finau asked him if he’d be her running mate. She’s a former president of the American Samoa Community College who holds a doctorate in education, is the mother of 10 and, according to her website, was a dancer in an Elvis Presley movie.

Savusa was intrigued. “Samoa is a male-dominant society,” he said.

Iuniasolua Savusa, who served as the top enlisted soldier for U.S. Army Europe, the U.S. and NATO commands in Afghanistan and the U.S. Pacific Command during his 37-year Army career, is running for office in his native American Samoa. Savusa is running for lieutenant governor. He's running with the only female candidate, Salu Hunkin-Finau. [photo: courtesy Salu and Savusa]


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