FAOA AND TAUFETE’E KICKOFF: THEIR YEARS IN GOVT SERVICE CITED, PLATFORM
Education, hospital, homeland security, and economic development are some of the issues on the campaign platform for the gubernatorial team of candidate for governor, Lt. Gov. Faoa Aitofele and his running mate as lieutenant governor, Taufete’e John Faumuina with more issues to be revealed along the campaign trail heading to the Nov. 6 general election.
Faoa, a former ASG Treasurer, made the revelation during the team’s official campaign kick off last Saturday at the ‘Suigaula o le Atuvasa’ field at Utulei Beach Park, where a large crowd of supporters, friends and family members gathered to cheer and hear from the candidates, who are hoping for their first elected term in office.
At the end of the event, Campaign Chair Lauvao Steven Haleck announced that the unofficial tally, or fundraising tally for the Faoa & Taufete’e Kick Off was $113,554. Siva was by district — as in, East, Central, West and Far West.
As the campaign trail moves forward heading into the general election, Faoa says more issues on the team’s campaign platform will be revealed with specific details for the benefit of everyone in the territory. However, he revealed some issues he believes are pertinent to the gubernatorial team and also very important to the people.
For example, he said “much concern” was raised recently about LBJ Medical Center. “Taufete’e and I are prepared to address all those concerns in the very near future,” said the 69-year old Faoa. “What is very clear, however, and should calm and lighten the concern, is that LBJ hospital continues to operate as usual.”
“The tough issue currently faced by LBJ hospital is mainly money and not life threatening, as some people want the public to perceive,” he said but didn’t hint as to who some of those people are. “Taufete’e and I will expound on our plans to maintain physical stability and... increase the quality of care provided at LBJ.”
He also spoke about education, saying that “education will address all of the challenges we face as a people and as a government”, adding that the government is mandated by law to provide education to all children up to level 12.
He pointed out that the federal government provides significant help by “paying over $50 million” of the local Department of Education’s $72 million budget. He also touched on the current “high risk” designation the federal government placed on U.S. Department of Education funds awarded to American Samoa, saying that “a few years back we lost Washington’s confidence in our ability to manage federal grants” and this resulted in the territory’s “high risk” status.
He recalled that he was appointed last year by Gov. Togiola Tulafono to lead a local team “deployed to Washington D.C. on a credibility restoration mission — we had to appease the USDOE and to obtain guidance on the fastest way to get back on track and be removed from the high risk status.”
Faoa, who has also served as Education Department acting director since early this year after the Fono rejected — twice — the governor’s nomination of Jacinta Galeai as DOE director, said that the local team is returning to Washington next month for an evaluation of high risk conditions that were imposed on American Samoa.
“We believe, and we accept the reality, that if education of our children in schools, in the families, villages and churches are in true partnership, then it would be quite clear that our children will have a wonderful balance of life experiences,” he said. “That’s our approach — to promote that balance of life for our youth.”
“It’s a collective effort and responsibility that Taufete’e and I want to make a priority in our campaign,” declared the son of a church minister.
“Taufete’e and I want to built our economic plans on efforts by the present administration and add on to what has begun,” he said and noted that American Samoa continues to be blessed with the injection of funds from the federal government.
“But we want to count on the business community as well, to continue investing in the territory,” he noted. “Of course, the [local] government must do its part to build and maintain a dependable infrastructure and to avail utility services that are affordable and reliable.”
Faoa said the selection of Taufete’e as a running mate “was also because of his vast experience in economic development.”
Taufete’e served as deputy director of the former ASG Office of Economic Development in 1985 and then acting director for the same office between 1985 and 1997 before the office became the Department of Commerce, where he served as director from 1997 to 1998. He was the first chief executive officer of the LBJ Medical Center in 1996 when the entity became the American Samoa Medical Center Authority, a semi autonomous ASG entity. He was CEO until 2006.
Faoa told the crowd that “our government and our people have achieved so much to ensure that American Samoa continues to be a safe place to live and to raise our families. We must be vigilant in safeguarding that security.”
The event of advanced information technology has brought to the islands the “good and the bad”, so local law enforcement must be equipped with state-of-the-art technology in combating these new hi-tech crimes, he said.
“Taufete’e and I plan to keep up with the changes in the world of technology,” he said.
COMMITTEE AND SUPPORTERS
Faoa, 69, told the gathering that seeking the top political post in government was a decision not made overnight. He said American Samoa is home for him and Taufete’e, along with their families.
“American Samoa is dear to our hearts because we were born here,” he said, and noted that both he and Taufete’e have worked for years in government service and are prepared as well as qualified to be governor and lieutenant governor.
As campaign season heats up, Faoa called on their committee and supporters to keep peace and harmony, to only speak positive about he and Taufete’e and not speak negative about other teams. He counseled them to be patient at all times.
“Be positive in your campaigning,” he urged supporters and committee members.
Faoa has been lieutenant governor since early April of 2003 when he took office after then Lt. Gov. Togiola Tulafono ascended to the governor’s post, following the sudden passing of the late Gov. Tauese P.F. Sunia (Faoa’s older brother) in late March of that year.
A 1962 graduate of Roosevelt High School in Hawai’i, Faoa attended Concord College in West Virginia from 1962 to 1968 and later attended and received a Bachelor of Science in government degree from the University of San Francisco, where he later earned his law degree in 1975.
During his speech, Taufete’e told the gathering that Faoa has served in all three branches of the American Samoa Government, including the Judicial Branch where Faoa was a judge pro temp and at the Legislature, where he was a legal counsel and later Legislative Reference Bureau director.
Taufete’e, who holds both Bachelors and Masters degrees in Mathematics from Boston University in Boston, Ma, said his job as lieutenant governor is to support the governor, and if elected that is exactly what he will do — “provide strong support” at all times. Taufete’e will celebrate on Oct. 1 this year his 65th birthday.
Samoa News will feature each candidate team as they inform us of their kick offs.