“It’s good to be back!”
Thus stated Rep. Edwin Kenneth Propst (D-Saipan) during an interview shortly after he and 19 other representatives took their oaths as members of the 22nd House of Representatives during Monday’s inauguration.
Propst said the people’s overwhelming support, belief, and desire for him to continue to deliver made him to decide to return to the Legislature.
“So, after consulting with my wife, my children, my parents, my family, and most especially our supporters, they have asked me to serve, and I said, I will do so,” he said.
Propst resigned last Oct. 1 as a representative, about two weeks after the Department of Public Safety confirmed that a complaint for sexual misconduct had been filed against him and that an investigation was ongoing.
A concerned citizen, Irene Holl, asked then-House speaker Blas Jonathan T. Attao (R-Saipan) for a formal ethics investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against Propst while he was a teacher at the Marianas High School and also at the Northern Marianas College. The Office of the Attorney General has since dropped the case, declining to prosecute Propst.
Yet even without campaigning, Propst managed to be the top vote-getter among 14 candidates for the House Precinct 1 last Nov. 3.
When asked about this, Propst said it’s a very emotional and overwhelming feeling that there are such wonderful people out there who continue to believe in the work that he does, and those who want that work to continue.
House Speaker Edmund Sablan Villagomez (Ind-Saipan) appointed Propst Tuesday to chair the House Committee on Gaming. In a recent Facebook post, Propst solicited testimonies from people who may have knowledge of bribery or kickback schemes involving any gaming official, with a promise of confidentiality. Propst has been a vocal critic of exclusive Saipan casino licensee Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC.
Meanwhile, Villagomez appointed Rep. Donald Manalang Manglona (Ind-Rota) as chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means; Rep. Celina R. Babauta (D-Saipan) as chairman of the Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations; Rep. Leila Haveia Fleming Clark Staffler (D-Saipan) as chair of the Committee on Education; and Rep. Sheila Therese Jack Babauta (D-Saipan) as chair of the Committee on Natural Resources.
Villagomez also appointed Rep. Denita Kaipat Yangetmai (D-Saipan) as chair of the Committee on Commerce and Tourism, and Cannabis; Rep. Vicente Castro Camacho (D-Saipan) as chairman of the Committee on Federal and Foreign Affairs; Rep. Richard Tudela Lizama (D-Saipan) as chairman of the Committee on Public Utilities, Transportation, and Communications; and Christina-Marie Elise Sablan as chair of the Committee on Health and Welfare.