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Monday, April 21, 2014

15 bets so far running with Inos

Former and incumbent government officials are among the guests in yesterday’s Republican Party picnic and get-together in Susupe. From left are Francisco Cruz, Antonio Agulto, Lt. Gov. Jude Hofschneider, Oscar Babauta, Jesus Lizama, and Arnold Palacios. (Moneth G. Deposa) The CNMI Republican Party has so far 15 names on its slate for the general elections in November, but the figure is expected to grow once the official lineup is finalized for Tinian and Rota this week.

The 15 confirmed candidates are running for positions up for grabs on Saipan. A few names may soon be added to the list once other potential candidates confirm their intention to run under the GOP banner.

Leading the GOP slate for the Nov. 6 elections is the tandem of incumbent Gov. Eloy S. Inos and Senate President Ralph Torres, who led yesterday’s picnic and get-together in Susupe where hundreds of supporters showed up for the team.

In a random check at yesterday’s event, Saipan Tribune got personal confirmation from majority of the 15 candidates who will pursue their political ambitions under the “Grand Old Party.”

For the Saipan Senate seats, the GOP has two contenders: Arnold Palacios and Oscar Babauta, both former House lawmakers.

For the House of Representatives, 11 people affirmed their decision to enter or re-enter politics.

For Precinct 1, the GOP will be fielding four candidates: press secretary Angel Demapan, incumbent lawmaker Richard Seman, Joseph Guerrero, and Gregorio Muña-Sablan Jr. Six positions up for grabs in this precinct.

Precinct 2 chair Jesus Lizama said they have two candidates for this precinct: incumbent Ralph Demapan and incumbent John Paul Sablan.

For Precinct 3, the GOP has for now two sure bets: incumbent Rep. Felicidad Ogumoro and former representative Stanley Torres. Six positions up for grabs in this election district.

GOP candidates for Precinct 4 are incumbent George Camacho and fellow incumbent Christopher Guerrero.

For Precinct 5, which has two posts that need to be filled, incumbent congressman Antonio Agulto has confirmed running in this district.
Some party chairmen disclosed yesterday that there remains “a few names” on the list of potential GOP candidates but they have yet to decide or confirm their decision with the party.

Kickoff rally

Gov. Inos told Saipan Tribune that yesterday’s picnic and get-together was only the second “party event” held after he announced his candidacy around September last year.

“Since then, we haven’t had any follow through events…so I just thought [of this get-together] to keep the momentum going. Plus, we want to prepare them for a bigger event, hopefully a kickoff rally that would take place in the very near future with full slate [of candidates],” Inos said, adding that get-togethers and picnics are important to make sure that party supporters are still on track.

As of yesterday, the GOP has yet to elect a new set of officers. This is expected to happen in this week’s scheduled meeting where the list of official candidates will also be finalized.

GOP on Tinian, Rota

Saipan Tribune learned that, as of yesterday, there has been no final slate of candidates for Tinian after two GOP bets expressed interest in running for the mayoralty post: JP San Nicolas and Joseph Mendiola.

Sources disclosed that wanting to run with San Nicolas as representative for Tinian is incumbent Trenton Conner; while former congressman Edwin Aldan, it was learned, wants to run for the same position with Mendiola.

On Rota, some sources said that a potential mayoralty candidate for the GOP is Efren Atalig; Steve Mesngon’s name is up for House representative; while incumbent Teresita Santos may seek a senatorial seat for Rota.

A final endorsement of official candidates for the two islands is expected this week.

Reforms in governance, public service

Inos told Saipan Tribune yesterday that the GOP platform will target reforms in two main areas: governance and public service.

He said his administration’s two major issues that need resolution are the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. and the Commonwealth Utilities Corp.

Inos expressed concern over the latest results of the Medicare survey that found the public hospital still noncompliant in many areas.

“We got the CMS report and we need to work with the management and the [CHCC] board to ensure we resolve those issues,” he said.

Inos is also counting on the newly reconstituted CUC board to soon govern and guide the utilities corporation in its operation.

Happy but not satisfied

Next week will mark Inos’ first year in office as governor. When asked how he feels about this, he admitted to not being satisfied with what he has achieved so far.

“I am just finishing up my first year…and I can say, am pretty happy but not altogether satisfied with the accomplishment,” he told Saipan Tribune.

But, considering the magnitude or severity of the many issues facing the CNMI, Inos said his administration was able to reduce if not fully resolve the then-multiple challenges of the government.

One notable achievement under Inos’ leadership is the settlement reached by parties in the Retirement Fund case. He said there are only two things left to do in the Fund issues: to make sure the money is there to meet the minimum guaranteed payment for the 75 percent pension payout; and restoring the 25-percent cut in the pension of retirees.

“I have no reason to believe that these two will not be done or secured because the issue on 25-percent pension cut is now a working progress,” said Inos, adding that a bill is pending at the Legislature, which proposes to establish a “Deferred DB Restoration Fund” where revenues to be identified for the purpose will be deposited in the account.

Inos said this “Restoration Fund” will set the procedure for the manner and amount of how the deferred pension would be restored.

Meantime, the governor conveyed his gratitude for the hard work demonstrated by Northern Marianas College officials and employees that allowed the college to regain its accreditation. Inos emphasized that the government will continue to support the institution and work with NMC to ensure its “sustainability.”

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