Independent gubernatorial candidate Heinz Hofschneider and his runningmate Sen. Ray Yumul (IR-Saipan) led a discussion discerning political “myths from truths” with MILE CNMI last Thursday night as part of youth voter group’s ongoing meetings with this year’s gubernatorial candidates.
The meeting with Hofschneider and Yumul came two days after the group’s meeting with Gov. Eloy S. Inos and his runningmate Senate President Ralph Torres (R-Saipan).
The group of young voters are dedicated to getting more young people like themselves to vote, and have scheduled or are working to schedule meetings with candidates to inform themselves about the candidates as well as issues in the Commonwealth.
Irene Tantiado, a group organizer, said the young voters “want to be smart.”
“[They want to] make the informed decision when they choose their candidate,” she said.
She added that the group is focused on getting more young people to vote, a concern which Hofschneider shared.
In his community outreach, he said, “I found more than 1,000 kids not registered.”
He added that this was not “healthy democratically” and urges youth to register and start communicating with politicians about what they want to see done in the community.
During discussion, Hofschneider took the white board and spelt out “myths” and “truth” as discussion ranged from the economy, to the current state of government leadership, and contract workers.
He cited persistent problems with utility costs, the state of the island hospital, and an economy he claims is not improving as some of the problems he has with leadership in the CNMI these last 10 years.
“Leaders have failed the last 10 years,” he said.
When the issue of contract worker status was brought up by members of the group, he took the time to distinguish the government’s actual role in the issue, suggest that since decision-making is currently left to federal authorities, what the island must do to ensure the retaining of its contract workers is to continue to grow the economy.
“Mark my word. We will grow the economy. We will petition… for CW workers,” he said.
He assured the guest worker children in the group of their ability to petition their parents for visas to stay on island once they become of age and emphasized their importance in the CNMI’s future.
“If you’re born here, this is your place. You’re just as good as anybody on island,” he said.
While Hofschneider tied a strong economy to a better CNMI for its citizens and contract workers, he said that inviting any kind of investment to the island is “failed thinking” and added that there was no magic solution to grow a larger economy.
“Don’t wait for that pie in the sky,” he said. “Each of us has to put a little sweat in it.”
A member of MILE CNMI, who would like not be named, said he was satisfied with the night’s discussion.
The group is currently working to meet with the other gubernatorial candidates. They are scheduled to meet with Democratic candidate Edward Masga Deleon Guerrero this Friday.
The group is also conducting an informal poll among 18-25 year olds for who would they vote for among this year’s candidates.