DNC platform pleases island nations in attendance

13 delegates make history as first batch from CNMI

PHILDELPHIA—As Day 1 of the Democratic National Convention kicked off, the majority of delegates from the U.S. Pacific territories are throwing their support behind Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Island delegates echoed their content with the Democrat’s platform. The platform was officially adopted during Monday’s proceedings at the Wells Fargo Center.

“Democrats have done a lot for the territories because they have been inclusive from Day 1. This is the big tent party and we’ve got every ethnic group here, including us,” American Samoa super delegate Teri Hunkin told Saipan Tribune. A native Californian, Hunkin has lived in American Samoa for more than 30 years now and she said her residency in the territory magnifies the need to cherish nature.

“The oceans, the environmental issues are huge. And people don’t realize until they live in a small place like American Samoa how important it is to take care of the environment.”

Environmental issues are also a front and center concern for CNMI delegate to the convention Angelo Villagomez. He is in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with a contingent of 12 other CNMI delegates. It’s an historic first for the Northern Marianas to send a delegation to the Democratic National Convention, which takes place every four years. The delegation was situated stage right in the set of bleachers above the arena floor near delegations from Wyoming, Guam, and American Samoa. CNMI delegation members could be seen holding up signs “Love trumps Hate,” amidst cheers during the first night of the Convention.

Villagomez praised Hillary Clinton’s platform calling for protection of oceans and lands, saying the goal is fantastic. But he especially supports her stance on climate change “and this is a major concern for the CNMI. A lot of the food, a lot of the protein that people are eating back home are coming from our coral reefs and coral reefs are probably the most threatened ecosystem by climate change.”

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders told the thousands of attendees “Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president and I am proud to stand with her here tonight.” In endorsing Clinton and discussing the issues of the campaign including the economy and the immigration reform, Sanders called climate change “the greatest environmental crisis facing our planet.” He went on to stress the importance of maintaining a “healthy and habitable” world for the future generations.

On Monday morning, amid national media reports Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was leading Clinton in national polls, CNMI delegate Villagomez told us he was hopeful Clinton would get a bump of her own in the polls once U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders endorsed her.

Support for the Democrat’s platform was evident earlier Monday at the Asian-American Pacific Islander caucus gathering. Villagomez explains to Saipan Tribune he heard during the caucus discussion at the convention those who identify with the group tip heavily in favor of the Democratic Party instead of the GOP.

Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU) said the Asian-American Pacific Islander group can play an important role come November. Saipan Tribune spoke with Bordallo after the caucus at the Pennsylvania Convention Center Monday.

“I think it was reported here we would double our numbers in the years ahead. If we go out and vote, we can make a difference in this election. And that’s what I’m hoping will happen,” she says.

But Bordallo remains concerned about how citizens of U.S. territories still cannot vote for U.S. President. She said they fought for that right among other issues throughout many years. Bordalo told us she is pleased issues such as voting rights are included in the 2016 Democrat Party platform. Clinton, in the past, has said she supports the right for citizens in the territories to have the equal right to vote for U.S. President.

The Congresswoman, having been to conventions since 1964, made a case for Clinton as the nation’s next Commander in Chief.

“I just think it’s time for a woman. A woman seems to be a multi-tasker, take on whatever, we run the homes, we have business people now, we’re officials in the communities, we’re presidents of nations. So I think it’s time for the United States to have a woman president.”


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