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Chuuk gubernatorial hopefuls visit Saipan

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THIS past Saturday, the Saipan Chuukese community gathered at the multi-purpose center to meet with 2021 Chuuk State gubernatorial election candidates, former FSM Assistant Attorney General Daniel J. Rescue Jr., Esq. for governor, and current Association of Pacific Island Legislatures board member Sen. Gardenia Aisek for lt. governor.

The election is set to take place in March of next year, but the pair is wasting no time in reaching out to all of their constituents, including those residing on Saipan. Among the meeting’s attendees was CNMI Rep. Ivan A. Blanco who has familial ties to Chuuk.

The Rescue and Aisek campaign platform stands on these four pillars: economic development; accountability and transparency; education, public health, and public safety; and environmental protection.

In terms of the Chuuk economy, they highlighted energizing the private sector, increasing exports and decreasing imports, developing marketing strategies for exports, promoting eco-friendly tourism, and providing incentives to tackle the state’s high rate of outmigration.

As one who has studied and currently practices law at Micronesian Legal Services, Rescue noted accountability and government transparency as one of the four pillars of his and Aisek’s platform, emphasizing the need to strengthen the Office of the Public Auditor, a government entity responsible for overseeing “the money flow.”

He added that a special unit would be created specifically to aid the OPA in enforcing laws pertaining to white collar crimes.

Aisek added, from experience, the importance of investing in quality education, public health, and public safety.

A trailblazer, Aisek is the first female member of the College of Micronesia Board of Regents, the first female Chuuk State director of education, and the first female senator in the Chuuk State Legislature.

She noted the importance of promoting vocational skills for those who did not receive formal education, as well as implementing an adult education program to allow older adults to return to school and earn their degree.

In regards to health, the pair hopes to introduce telemedicine in the state, to allow patients the opportunity to consult specialists abroad via video chat. The technology is crucial for the state because it lacks qualified doctors, according to the candidates.

Rescue also highlighted the effectiveness of having a community gym in one of the villages in Chuuk, noting that the gym has helped promote healthy living and safer communities.

From left, Mrs. Maryann M. Rescue, Chuuk gubernatorial candidate Daniel J. Rescue Jr. Esq., his running mate senator/APIL board member Gardenia Aisek, CNMI Rep. Ivan A. Blanco, and Ach Chuukese-CNMI Association president Own Cholymay pose for a photo at the multi-purpose center in Susupe on Saturday.  Photo by K-Andrea Evarose S. Limol

Public safety is another priority on the candidates’ platform. The pair acknowledged the presence of police brutality in the state, and clarified their plans to require specialized training for police officers, as well as social and health programs for current and former convicts.

Another high priority for Rescue and Aisek is environmental protection.

They noted that the FSM Congress created a committee two years ago in order to pursue climate change, and also recently banned single-use plastic and Styrofoam products.

Rescue and Aisek also mentioned the numerous advantages that Chuuk has in utilizing every aspect of their natural environment, noting the coconut processing plant on one of their islands, which upcycles every part of a coconut, husks and all.

Rescue and Aisek stated that their platform is a work in progress and not set in stone. They quoted biblical verses in their respective speeches.

“Why vote for a man and a woman team?” the pair asked.

Rescue answered the question by affirming his confidence in Aisek as his running mate, noting that women have held political leadership roles before, including former Republic of the Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine, Guam Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero, and Aisek herself who serves as the first female legislator in Chuuk.

He added that women have been proven to be peacemakers compared to their male counterparts, and included that even the Bible notes that man could not perform his duties alone, so God created woman.

Aisek noted that although Rescue is younger than she is, she “respects him because of his experience, charisma, and humble demeanor.”

She emphasized that the two of them could have stayed abroad when they left Chuuk to pursue higher education, better salaries, and healthcare, but they chose to come back and serve because of their great love for Chuuk.

Aisek, who lived on Saipan from 1990 to 1998, expressed her love and respect for the island, and thanked the Saipan Chuukese community for being “dutiful ambassadors.”

Rescue and Aisek thanked the Saipan Chuukese community for showing up to Saturday’s meeting. They encouraged the community to show up to the polls in March 2021, not just to vote for their next gubernatorial candidates, but to also vote yes or no to the Chuuk State secession movement.

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