Heinz-Yumul team holds forum for the ‘manhoben’

Gubernatorial candidates Heinz Hofschneider and Ray Yumul held a Q&A of sorts for young voters at their headquarters on Wednesday night, with topics ranging from utilities and energy, to healthcare and tourism.

Hofschneider opened the talk saying that the “future is in the balance,” and hoped the event would relieve attendees of doubts they may have about the two candidates.

When asked what changes he would make to the hospital, he said the hospital’s management is “not according to law” and that he would give it the right amount of money it needs.

He went on to say the Constitution demands that the CNMI “never under-appropriate” for such things as education, health, and public safety. He believes the CNMI government has failed in this under Gov. Eloy Inos tenure.

“We cannot ration healthcare,” he said.

As for his plans for the retirement fund, he said his plans were to “pay it, pay it, and pay it on time and in full.” He claimed the current administration has “paid zero to retirement” in the last nine years, calling this “reckless behavior almost a sin.” He said the CNMI has a commitment to retirees and that “you do not rob them.”

What are his plans to improve the Commonwealth Utilities Corp.? Hofschneider explained that the CNMI is “just a speck” and “always at the mercy of bigger economies” like China when it comes to setting oil prices. Therefore, wind and solar power are the best options for the islands.

He pointed to Guam where he said they are looking to convert their power to 30 percent renewable energy before the military buildup there. He said CUC should “stop listening to vendors and listen to professionals.”

On tourism, he said Saipan has the potential to become the best destination site. He said it was all about “word-of-mouth,” building good infrastructure and maintaining the cleanliness of the islands to do this.

“You don’t need to spend $7 million on [the Marianas Visitors Authority],” he said.

Hofschneider also told the crowd that he did not attend the Saipan Chamber of Commerce gubernatorial forum because of “four political scientists” that were hired that “could spin anything we say thereafter.” He said they sent a letter to the Chamber to hold off on a forum until the runoff.

Hofschneider called Inos’ campaign a “deception” and asked the crowd if Ralph Torres is qualified to be the next governor.

He asked the crowd if they knew how much the CNMI government is in deficit.

“$700 million deficit,” he said, answering his own question and pointing his pen at the crowd. “It’s you who are going to pay for it.”

Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at dennis_chan@saipantribune.com.

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