Six candidates vying in special election for former Rep. Pulele’iite’s House seat

Wed., Sept. 27 is deadline to challenge the right of a candidate to run
fili@samoanews.com

Six individuals, including the current House chief clerk, have been determined by Chief Election Officer, Uiagalelei Dr. Uiagalelei Lealofi as eligible candidates for next month’s special election for House of Representative District No. 5, Sua No. 1 -  which is comprised of Fagaitua, Amaua, Auto, Avaio, Alega, Aumi and Laulii.

Registered voters for District No. 5, Sua No. 1 have before the close of business on Wednesday this week to challenge the eligibility of the individuals seeking public office.

Uiagalelei has already declared Oct. 24th as the date for the special election.

The seat became vacant following the Sept. 1st resignation of Pulele’iite Li’amatua Tufele Jr. who is now concentrating on his role as interim chief executive officer of the American Samoa TeleCommunications Authority.

Possible candidates for the District No. 5, Sua No. 1 seat had until 4:30p.m. last Friday to file petition and nomination forms for the special election.

Before 5p.m. last Friday, Uiagalelei released the “determination of candidates” directive, saying that based upon the nomination petitions filed and other documents with the Election Officer, he has determined the six individuals who are “eligible to qualify as candidates” for the Oct. 24th Special Election.

They are: Fialupe Felila Fiaui Lutu; Ketesemane Meaole; Laloniu P. Maloa; Tuialofi Faalae Lauatuaa Tunupopo; Tuifagalilo P. Vele; and Uele Fale S. Uele.

(Samoa News notes that the order in which the names are listed in this story, as well as the spelling, are based on the list from the Election Office.)

Pursuant to local statute, Uiagalelei said that any registered qualified elector of District No. 5,  Sua No. 1, “may challenge the right” of the above individuals to be a candidate for public office. The challenge shall be in writing, setting forth grounds upon which it is based and signed by the elector making the challenge.

Additionally, the challenge shall be received by the Chief Election Officer no later than 4:30p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27th. Upon expiration of the deadline or the determination of any challenges, candidates shall be certified and ballots will be printed, bearing the names of the certified candidates.

Among the six individuals seeking public office is Lutu, who has been serving as Chief Clerk of the House for more than a decade, and former faipule Tuialofi - who has tried unsuccessfully in past elections to return to the House.

During last November’s general election, Pulele’iite was challenged Meaole, Tuialofi and Uele.

Tuialofi came in second, followed by Uele, with Meaole coming in 4th place. The same three candidates tried unsuccessfully to unseat Pulelei'ite during the 2014 general election as well.

Meanwhile, voter registration is now open and will be closed at 4:30p.m. on Monday, Oct. 2nd for the special election.

The Election Office is currently accepting requests for off island absentee ballots for uniformed service voters, overseas voters, and students attending institutions of higher learning outside of American Samoa. The last day to request an off island absentee ballot is 4:30p.m. on Oct. 10th.

For more information call the Election Office at 699-3570 or log on to <www.americansamoaelectionoffice.org>

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