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Traditional leaders meet to select Tualauta Senator

A traditional leader from Vaitogi will fill one of the two senatorial seats for the Tualauta county, left vacant following this year’s death of the late Sen. Letuligasenoa Soli, who was serving his first four-year term in office, said Sen. Magalei Logovi’i, who holds the other seat for the county.


Tualauta county leaders met Saturday at the guesthouse of Fonoti Tafaifa Aufata, the county chief or fa’alupega, to select a traditional leader for the county’s seat, and Vaitogi presented their choice of candidate. However, other traditional leaders did not agree on the candidate selected by Vaitogi, according to information received by Samoa News following the meeting.


Another candidate, Ulugaono Walden Allen of Vaitogi, was presented but Magalei said it was learned the candidate’s chiefly title of ‘Ulugaono’ has not been registered yet, although the traditional blessing ceremony has already taken place.


The American Samoa constitution states that a senator must be chosen from among matai, whose titles are registered.


Magalei, the ranking traditional leader of the county, said Gaea Pelefoti Faulautusi’s name was included as another candidate. He says that if, by the end of this month, Ulugaono has not registered his matai title, Gaea will be the selected Tualauta senator.


Ulugaono could not be reached by phone at his office about his matai title and a phone message left with his office was not returned as of press time.


Magalei said that whoever is selected — either Ulugaono or Gaea — that individual's name will be certified by the county chief and sent to the Senate as the county’s selected senator, who should be ready to be sworn in when the Fono convenes for the 3rd Regular Session next month.


And, whoever becomes the next senator serves out the remaining three years of Letuligasenoa’s term, which officially expires before 12noon on Jan. 3, 2017.


Local law states that senators must be elected in accordance with Samoan custom by the county councils of the county or counties they are to represent. The county chiefs of such counties must certify the decision of the members of the county councils.


Ulugaono currently works at the Department of Human Resources, where he served as deputy director during the Togiola Administration.


Gaea also worked for the Togiola Administration as Treasurer for a couple of months in 2004 and later became the first person to head the ASG Internal Audit Office, which is part of the Governor’s Office.