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Andra Samoa will be only female faipule when new Legislature sits

Andra Samoa

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — With the results of the Nov. 6th midterm elections made official on Tuesday, faipule-elect Andra Samoa of District 13 Fofo will be the only female faipule in the House when the new lawmakers are sworn-in on Jan. 3, 2019 for their two-year terms.

Samoa, who unseated incumbent Rep. Fagaotua Dorian Salave’a, will join female Sen. Fonoti Tafa’ifa Aufata when the 36th Legislature convenes Jan. 14, 2019.

“I am at awe with respect and humility to be honored as the only woman in the upcoming [House] session of the Legislature for two years,” said Samoa, who served as executive director of the American Samoa Power Authority from 2006 to 2013.

“I also feel excited with this unique opportunity to be among my colleagues of Representatives chosen by the people respectively from each village, county and district,” she said yesterday in response to Samoa News inquiries.

“I look forward to getting to know each one of the Representatives and finding ways to introduce and support legislation that will be in the best interest of the American Samoa Government,” she said.

According to Samoa, her “primary focus and dedication” is to her Leone village residents. She explained that there are projects that can be fixed on a short term basis and those requiring long term solutions.

“We have 4 schools in need of attention, a fishing boat that continues to be an eyesore, street lights that have been out for awhile, secondary roads that continue to be a menace for the tires, evacuation routes to be maintained in preparation for a disaster, eco-tourism opportunities, environmental, conservation, climate change, coastal wetland, unemployment of the youth, drugs, empowerment programs, etc.,” she pointed out. “There are also legislation that are needed in order to benefit each village.”

“I keep hearing this excuse that ‘it is money that is needed from the government’. Why is it that we always want government to hand over money when there are other ways we can fix our village problems?” she asked.

“We can start within ourselves. Give unconditionally your time, money, expertise in helping our village. Connect with your network friends, family and organizations locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally,” she said during the campaign trail.

As part of her campaign platform list, is her promise - which attracted attention from not only her constituents but others outside of Fofo county - to research and introduce legislation to include village council authority in the process of economic development that will benefit the village, considering preservation and protection of the environment.

“Village should have veto power with regards to projects that will cause an adverse effect on the environment,” she declared. Additionally, seek out enforcement rules to assist the village with conservation, preservation, protection of its coastal wetland, coral reef, and historical sites.

Another promise made by Samoa during the campaign trail that also attracted lots of interest, is using the nontaxable faipule allowance of $30,000 to give back to the village “so that we can have this as seed money to fix our roads and programs for children.”

“Leone is in need of a village center to go to for mentoring and tutoring, sharing stories with the elderly, music, training in various arts and crafts, library, etc.,” she said. “There are a lot of FREE programs that can be implemented in our village, but it takes someone to follow through and request these programs.”

Since her departure from ASPA, Samoa has become a strong local environmentalist. She served as Project Coordinator for the Restoration of Leone Costal Wetland Project and even took her work to share with Aunu’u and other shoreline villages.

Samoa was one of the 70 “Inspiring Pacific Women” recognized and profiled in August 2017 by the regional Pacific Community, which celebrated its 70th anniversary late last year. She was described as a local environmentalist, who walks the talk.

“You will always find her cleaning the wetlands or picking up trash along the road and beaches in Leone,” according to her Pacific Community profile (See Samoa News Aug. 29, 2017 edition for details.)

She is also a member of the American Samoa TeleCommunications Authority board and works with other local industries.

“Being a member of the Legislative Branch requires a full time commitment that will enable the principle of checks and balances as well as the separation of powers to be followed,” Samoa told Samoa News. “These are the two principles of the constitution that we need to follow, being elected as public servants.”

“I believe serving in both the executive and the legislative branch will create a conflict of interest. Since my village has elected me to be representing them in the Legislative Branch, I will follow their order,” she declared.

Samoa’s campaign platform is available on her Facebook page.