By a vote of 20-0 with one absence, the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation confirmed yesterday afternoon the appointment of Diego L. Kaipat as the third member of the Saipan and Northern Islands Municipal Council.
This makes it the first time for the municipal council to have a member who was born and raised in the Northern Islands, boosting efforts to resettle and develop the islands north of Saipan.
Kaipat, a former nurse for some 25 years, said he was born in Agrigan and grew up in Pagan.
One of his priorities is revisiting a Northern Islands resettlement and development plan as he personally supports moving back people there, he said.
Kaipat was surrounded by family, relatives, friends and supporters when delegation members voted one by one to confirm him.
Among those who testified to endorse his appointment were Saipan and Northern Islands Municipal Council chair Ramon B. Camacho, Saipan Mayor Donald Flores, Frances Sablan and Jerome Aldan from the Northern Islands Mayor's Office.
The crowd applauded when delegation chair Rep. Ray Tebuteb (IR-Saipan) announced Kaipat's official confirmation.
“I am very.almost speechless at this time. I'm very excited, I'm happy to be confirmed as a member of the .municipal council,” Kaipat later told reporters.
Gov. Eloy S. Inos administered the oath of office for Kaipat late yesterday afternoon.
Northern Islands Mayor Tobias Aldan nominated Kaipat to serve on the council, which previously had two elected members: Camacho and councilwoman Antonia M. Tudela.
Kaipat said when he retired, he went back to the Northern Islands and lived there for over a year and he believes the islands are now fit for resettlement.
For several years now, government officials and residents have been talking and planning about resettling Pagan, among other Northern Islands, years after residents there were told to leave the island because of volcanic eruptions.
The Department of Public Lands earlier estimated that close to $1 million will be needed just to engage a firm that will survey an area in Pagan that will be fit for human resettlement.