I have lived on Saipan for 22 years. When I first arrived I knew that I had moved to a very different place so I wanted to learn as much as I could. I attended meetings at the House and Senate, Chamber of Commerce, Commonwealth Utilities Corp. board meetings, etc. Some members told me that I was attending their meetings more than their members! I started attending the 16th and 17th Legislature to observe how the government worked. I met many of the membership and as a whole they were nice people. But I was mainly interested in identifying people who could run the government in the future. Those people are completely different, I wanted to identify winners for the people.
I recently realized that our three current candidates for governor were all members of these legislatures. I spent two years watching and listening to them firsthand working for the people and I want to share my observations, not my opinions!
1) Ralph: I sat directly behind him so I could see his desk. He arrived at the meetings sometimes late, put his papers on the desk, including newspapers, magazines, shopping advertisements and his laptop that he used to shop online during the meeting. He was not an active debater or contributor during the meetings.
2) Arnold: He was speaker of the House and was engaged in discussions especially regarding fishing in the Northern Islands. He did not introduce much new legislation but he kept the meetings moving, and he was passionate about his love for the NMI. At one point when the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. (Rydlyme), retirement, and Public School System funding were being debated, he cut off the debate by telling one legislator by saying, “C’mon, Tina, get on board, the train has already left the station!”
3) Tina: Always arrived on time and was prepared for the meetings. She knew and understood the topics being debated, had notes for reference, and debated/challenged other legislators and offered new ideas. I never observed her shopping online!
I am only offering observations and there are many more. I offer only one opinion. The electorate must choose who they want to improve our islands. One candidate worked hard at these meetings for the people—that was Tina! Her agenda was clearly focused on helping the citizens of the CNMI. I owe my vote to her.
Capital Hill, Saipan