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GOP hopefuls file candidacies

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NMI Republican Party hopefuls were at the Commonwealth Election Commission on Monday to file their candidacies for the November midterm elections.

Joining them were family members, friends and other supporters, including Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, first lady Diann T. Torres, and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios.

Incumbent Republicans seeking reelection are House Speaker Blas Jonathan “BJ” Attao, House Vice Speaker Lorenzo Deleon Guerrero, House Floor Leader John Paul “JP” Sablan, Reps. Joseph Leepan Guerrero, Roman Benavente, Ivan Blanco, Marco Peter, Ralph Yumul, Jose Itibus, Joel Camacho, and Sen. Sixto Igisomar.

The governor’s chief of staff, Angel Demapan, is again running for  one of the six House seats in Precinct 1.

The new Republican legislative candidates are acting Special Assistant for Youth Affairs Roy Ada, Randall Pangelinan, CNMI Museum Director Danny Aquino, former adviser to the Northern Islands Mayor Cecilia Taitano, Tinian Casino Gaming Control Commission Chair Patrick San Nicolas of Tinian, Karl Nabors, also of Tinian, Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services Commissioner Dennis Mendiola of Rota, and Commonwealth Ports Authority board member Barrie Toves also of Rota..

“I want to thank those that want to continue to serve, especially running under the GOP, and those [first-timers] who want to be  part of the GOP family —  we welcome them and we look forward [to] a very successful election again,”  Gov. Torres said on Monday.

 

NMI Republican Party candidates and their supporters, including Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, first lady Diann T. Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, pose outside the Commonwealth Election Commission on Monday. Photo by K-Andrea Evarose S. Limol

“It doesn’t matter what party you’re with. The people, at the end of the day, will vote for who they want to represent them. The Republican Party has been strong here in the CNMI for a reason —  because the people believe in the party. At the end of the day, I believe that this party is the right party [and] has the right representatives who can move the CNMI forward and make it the best place to live.”

The governor also expressed his gratitude to the CNMI leadership, the first responders, the hospital, nurses, and everyone at the frontline for everything they have done in addressing the Covid-19 issue, and ensuring that the Commonwealth remains one of “the safest places on earth.”

Opportunity

In a separate interview, Angel Demapan said: “I’ve had the opportunity to serve the people of Precinct 1 for two terms , and then I ran for a different office last election and now I’m at the governor’s office. When this opportunity came up, I spoke to my constituents and my family and friends, and there was a strong urging for me to come back and serve them in the House, if given that opportunity.”

He noted that with the support of the community, he wants to continue serving the people, and to see greater improvements in Precinct 1 and the Commonwealth as a whole.

“There’s a lot of precinct projects that have not gone through because of the state of the economy and because of the pandemic that we’re in, and obviously we’ve been through back-to-back disasters and it’s kind of put a lot of the precinct development projects behind because of the bigger picture.”

He added, “I’d like to bring the livelihood of the precinct back to the forefront, and trying to do that, of course, requires a collaborative partnership to stabilize the economy first, and I believe that by stabilizing the economy, we’ll be on our way to put the precinct projects and development projects back in the forefront.”

He is  urging his constituents “to please take a good look at the candidates. We’re running under the Republican Party and we have a track record of accomplishments to look at. I think the benchmarks and measures of commitment and results that have been delivered should be the deciding factor.”

He said, “There’s a choice of choosing leadership that has been proven and  tested or choosing leadership that is unknown, and I think in this current state, we have to side with leadership that has been proven.”

If elected, Demapan said he intends to implement a village identity project that will comprise all facets of the community, from sports activities that build a sense of pride for young people representing their team or village, to highlighting natural features of the village such as well-known fruits and flowers.

“I think that we need to bring those opportunities back so that our children of today don’t just be immersed in technological advancements, but be brought back to the basics,” he said.

More to do

Speaker Attao, for his part, said he is seeking reelection because “there’s a lot of stuff that we still need to finish up here for the Commonwealth.”

“Obviously, we’re faced with a lot of different devastations [with] the current one being Covid-19, but we got to also continue the work that I started back in the 19th Legislature. Hopefully, we can get that out of the way within this Legislature, which is…the 25% of the retirees to dedicate the license fee so the retirees won’t have to stress over when their next pay will be,” he added.

He explained that the Commonwealth still owes the retirees their 25% for  three pay periods: April 15, April 30, and May 15.

The 25% is not mandatory, but Attao said, “We need to address that issue right now so we can make them whole. These pensioners are dependent on those to take care of their day-to-day needs in regards to medication and on top of that, they still need to take care of their bills,” he added.

He said the CNMI is faced with so many challenges, “but we can’t just leave without taking care of those challenges. We need to make sure that all the issues that we face today are cleared out so that the next generation of leaders or our kids that will want to serve here in the Commonwealth, or the next educators or next students, will have something better for them.”

“We want to leave it where it’s better for them than when we found it. The generations before us gave us that opportunity. Unfortunately, natural disasters are out of our control, and they put us in these predicaments. The health disaster that we have right now with the coronavirus… puts us in a situation, but we cannot stop for any reason not to be able to provide something better for tomorrow’s kids,” the speaker said.

There are a lot of issues in Precinct 3, Attao said, adding that it is the main business hub of the island.

“But like I’ve mentioned in the past interviews, we also need to grow…. We have a lot of help from the outside. The feds are helping us out with a lot of the federal money that’s being trickled down this way, but we also need to help ourselves,” he added.

Speaker Attao said that with the money that the CNMI has at the local level, “we need to put it back out into the economy so that we can kind of really help ourselves revive our economy, help get people back into jobs and become taxpayers again. That would actually assist the economy in improving itself. I believe that if the outside world just sees us as being proactive in taking care of our situation here, getting assistance from the outside will be so much easier.”

In closing, the speaker encouraged every single voter to register to vote if they have not already done so.

“If you haven’t been registered, please register to vote because that’ll be your privilege and your opportunity to be the captain of your own ship. In that booth, you control everything. Everything around that is just a blur. You control your destiny walking into that booth, and I would appreciate you taking that opportunity and using that right to vote. Whether it’s for me or not, I appreciate that because you’re making the time and effort to dictate what your future looks like and who will represent you in the House of Representatives,” he said.

New candidate

Among the new House candidates running under the GOP banner is acting Special Assistant for Youth Affairs Roy Ada who said, “I believe that the House, the administration and the community have been working collaboratively together to get back to normalcy.”

One of Ada’s main priorities is the youth, highlighting that Precinct 1 hosts several schools.

“If given the opportunity, I would like to support, 100%, the schools and their efforts to accommodate kids and hopefully prepare them for whatever is coming next. It’s tough to see, but that’s where a lot of focus is going to be on the Precinct 1 level where we’re trying to actually go out into the community and go to a lot of places where we haven’t been to really get to the root of things,” he said.

“I’ve been living in Precinct 1 for a long time, and I see a lot of improvements Precinct 1 has already. I honestly would also like to focus on helping other precincts get better because it affects our precinct as well.

“If our precincts have already been well-groomed or they’re ready to have the facilities and infrastructure that we need, I believe that we should look into other precincts as well and help them develop. I just want to be a part of any good movement for progress.”

Ada said he respects everyone’s opinion and vote, adding that the right to vote is the civic duty of citizens.

“I just wish that as adults, we should be more responsible in giving out factual information and data so that people could formulate their own opinion about it… In life, it doesn’t matter what it is, whether it’s politics or government or whatever, but sometimes we jump to conclusions or we formulate or we make assumptions,” he said.

In closing, Ada said, “I myself, many times, have learned that I need to gather more information, do more research, and talk to people involved on both sides and be objective and formulate my own competent decision. I respect the people, whatever they decide. If I’m not able to garner the votes to make it in office, then it’s fine with me; I’ll try again in the next round.”

The NMI Democratic hopefuls will file their candidacies on Aug. 5, the last day for the submission of nominating petitions and candidacies.

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