Andrew Salas, the CNMI Democratic Party’s candidate for U.S. delegate, has put on hold his campaign activities and will fly to Boise, Idaho, to help in the search for his missing brother, Joe.
“At this time I’m not doing any politicking and any house-to-house visits. We’re a large family but a close family. My family and I need to do what we need to do as a family,” he said in a phone interview with Saipan Tribune last night.
He said his political sorties to Guam, Rota, and Tinian would also be called off.
Salas said as soon as his salary advance from the company he consults with in the U.S. mainland comes in, he will immediately book a flight to Boise and join his four other brothers and numerous nephews currently combing the area where 50-year-old Joe was last seen hunting.
“Hope I get funds tomorrow. I’m hoping my brother will be found. I got calls from family members, friends, and teammates, all telling me that I should go and search for my brother,” said Salas.
He said their family has organized Mass for nine straight days for Joe’s safe return.
The former lawmaker and Commerce secretary said he will also be begging off from the Saipan Chamber of Commerce forum where he was supposed to face off with incumbent Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan.
Salas stressed, though, that he is not dropping off from the race.
“There will be no forum with me and Kilili but, as soon as there’s a resolution on my brother’s whereabouts, I will gladly take part in the debate. As soon as this is done I will be happy to meet Mr. Sablan in a forum after we bring Joe back to his lovely wife, Cathy,” said Salas. “As soon as the elections are done, we will also still be cousins, his sisters will still be my friends, and his nephew will also be my paddling buddy.”
Salas said he feels sorry for begging off from the Chamber delegate forum as he was looking forward to debating with Sablan as the latter wasn’t able to attend a similar forum sponsored by the Northern Marianas Descent Corp. a couple of weeks back.
Meanwhile, in a statement provided by his office, Sablan said he is also begging off from attending the forum organized by the Chamber.
“I understand my opponent’s decision not to participate. And I feel it would not be respectful to sit alone on the stage answering questions if he is not present because he is searching for his brother,” Sablan said.
He also asked the community to pray for the safe return of Joe, who is a former Saipan Little League Baseball president, staff of former representatives Edward Salas, and a former manager of a garment factory in Tanapag.
“Joe Salas, his wife Cathy, and all of their family are in my prayers. I understand from people in Boise that there is an intensive search underway and that the large Chamorro community there is supporting that effort in every way they can. I just saw Joe at the annual softball tournament in Portland, so I know how big the community is and how well organized. That gives me hope. Those of us here in the Northern Marianas can all help by praying that Joe finds his way to safety or that rescuers will soon come to his aid.”
Chamber president Alex Sablan said the organization understands Salas’ predicament and is also praying for his brother’s immediate rescue.
“Prayers with his family and we’re hopeful that Joe is found safe and sound. We wish him the best. The Chamber totally understands why he can’t be in the delegate forum. It’s the least of his concerns right now.”