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ASCC to told Congressional & Gubernatorial forums

The American Samoa Community College will hold a Congressional Forum on Tuesday, October 16th, followed by a Gubernatorial Forum on Thursday, October 18th. Both events will take place between 12:30 and 2 p.m. in the ASCC Gymnasium and are open to the public.

The forums are sponsored by the Student Government Association (SGA), who have sent out invitations to all of local candidates for Congress and for Governor, and will follow a format which will include a question and answer period.

Every four years, the forums for Congressional and Gubernatorial candidates have been a regular event at the College for a far back as anyone can recall. These forums give students, the ASCC faculty and staff, and members of the public a chance to familiarize themselves with the candidates and ask them questions pertaining to relevant local issues. As they prepare for the event, several members of the SGA shared their views on the importance of the forums and why students should take the time to attend them.

“For many years, elections have been getting more competitive,” said SGA President and reigning Miss ASCC Pearl Faimafili Sheck. “Young adults sometime tend to place too much emphasis on personal charisma or the intensity of the campaigning, but these forums will be an open window for students to balance what they see and hear with what people tell us about the candidates. It’s an opportunity to question the candidates about their platforms and their plans for our future.”

As SGA President, Miss Sheck has had a busy semester organizing not only the upcoming forums as well as making preparations for the forthcoming Miss ASCC Pageant, but she feels a responsibility to encourage ASCC students to attend these important political exchanges. “For many years,” she continued, “our parents as well as government officials have told the young people of American Samoa, ‘Your vote counts. It’s your voice in our government.’ It’s important for ASCC students to attend so that they will be able to make a truly informed decision on Election Day.”

Other SGA members echoed Miss Sheck’s concern that ASCC students take the forums seriously. “They will help the students comprehend the platform of each candidate who says they want to do the right for the people of American Samoa,” said SGA Archivist Siulepa B. Uiagalelei.  “This will benefit students still struggling with which one to choose, and I know for a fact they want to hear what plans these candidates have to make American Samoa a better place, and to understand why each candidate wants to become our leader.”

To SGA Parliamentarian Legalo Pasitale, becoming better informed and taking direct involvement in the political process is a crucial part of every citizen’s civic duty. 

“Forums give people the opportunity to decide for themselves whether those runn ing have what it takes or qualify for the seat,” said Pasitale. “In my opinion, your vote is a way of showing your commitment to the democracy of our country. Voting is a sign that you believe in democracy and that you feel that it is a worthwhile and important thing. Therefore, every time you vote, you’re declaring that you believe in your country.”

“Why are the forums important? Because we care for the future of American Samoa,” said Paul Saulo, whose position within SGA is the Student Representative to the Board of Higher Education. “It’s important that we students have a chance to hear first hand from the candidates, because sometimes our parents or our family try to influence our decision as to who is truly qualified. If American Samoa is going to have a bright and prosperous future, we have to make our votes count.”

SGA Secretary Scott Zahnen also emphasized the importance of making informed choices. “Students should be fully aware of the background and eligibility of the candidates so they can choose for themselves who they feel would govern our territory equally and fairly. Also, if they have questions or doubts, the forums will provide students with a chance to voice them.”

For more information on the Congressional and Gubernatorial Forums, contact the SGA through the main ASCC telephone exchange at 699-9155.