Guam, NMI legislatures consider closer ties


Both incoming legislatures of Guam and the CNMI aim to form closer working ties that would benefit each island community, according to Guam senator-elect William Mendiola Castro.

The 34th Guam Legislature will hold its inauguration on Jan. 2 while its counterpart in the CNMI, the 20th, would have its first session on Jan. 9.

The Democrats remain the majority in the Guam Legislature after again securing nine of the 15 seats at stake. Their leadership has also chosen Vice Speaker Sen. Benjamin Cruz to replace Speaker Judith Won Pat, who lost her re-election bid.

In the CNMI, the local GOP has the super majority in the 20th Legislature, winning 15 of the 20 House seats; the Republican leadership chose Rep. Rafael S. Demapan (R-Saipan) to remain the speaker.

Castro, who was a 22-year Democrat before running as a Republican in the last two elections, said they plan to “roll out initiatives every two or three months.”

“As two policy makers for two separate island communities that are designed to bridge the gap, I think the mindset is changing and, as a senator, that’s what I’m bought in to do. Working together and sharing resources, there is no need to be territorial about what we do or how we do it.”

“It is in our mutual interest that we share and work together. I have nothing to lose but everything to gain by doing that,” added the soon-to-be former Guam Bureau of Statistics and Plans director.

He has already discussed with representative-elect Ivan A. Blanco (R-Saipan) several initiatives that are designed to help bring both communities closer, such as having the medical referral program.

“Two weeks before election, we made a public announcement that we’re extending the invitation for the CNMI Liaison Medical Referral Office to be co-located with the Guam Community Office in Adelup, which is the central seat of the Executive Branch of our government.”

Castro said the move would benefit the CNMI since it would save them rent and would be closer to the Guam Governor’s Office. Gov. Edward B. Calvo, a member of the local Republican Party, is the incumbent chief executive of the Mariana’s southernmost island.

“From the management side, we can also talk about what does and doesn’t work for you. The most important thing is it sends a symbolic message that we’re not treating you as foreigners or from a foreign area.”

Surprising result
Castro is one of the six Republicans that won in the last elections in Guam where seven incumbents lost their re-election bid, including Won Pat and majority leader Rory J. Respicio.

“The election results were astounding. I lost in the last elections [2014] and I was a 22-year Democrat but ran as a Republican and I lost.”

He again ran as a Republican in the election last month. “And I became the number one Republican. Maybe because of my hard work but I also give credit to my [campaign] team. It was not just me.”

Castro said that Guam voters’ attitudes are also changing based on the results of the elections. “It is a change in the mindset of the people, the electorate, the voters. I know Republicans and Democrats that voted for years for [their respective parties] and they told me ‘we voted so and so out.’ Something happened to the mindset of the average voters.”

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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