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Honesty high on the list of criteria for cabinet member selections for gubernatorial teams

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Among the actions of a new administration, that will be closely watched by the public, is the selection of cabinet members and criteria that will be used for the process.

“What criteria would you use to select members of your cabinet, particularly for key roles?” was one of the 15 questions asked by the public, of the candidates during the second gubernatorial forum held earlier this month, hosted by the American Samoa Bar Association at the American Samoa Community College Multipurpose Center.

The Gaoteote and Fai’ivae gubernatorial team didn’t make the second Bar Association forum due to prior commitment.


Candidate for governor, I’aulualo Fa’afetai Talia responded that the person has to have experience, and it “would be great to have educational experience. I think that’s what should be required now-a-days.”

Additionally, the person should have “very extensive years of experience, particularly in management but also must be honest, including following the law. The person has to also follow the “mandate that is required of a director or leader of the department,” he said.

I’aulualo points out that “being a governor, a leader, doesn’t mean you lose being human. So the person should also have the compassion, so they know how to deal with people — the human side.”

His running mate and candidate for lieutenant governor Tapaau Dr. Dan Mageo Aga added that, “every director takes an oath to serve and protect the laws and constitution of American Samoa. In additional to what I’aulualo was saying, we would look at the person who would be true to their oath. Be faithful to their oath to serve the people of American Samoa.”

“I happen to think that people skills are also very important. I would like to see directors take good care of their staff, not favoritism, not making it easy but to challenge them to do their best, and as good a job as they can,” he pointed out.

Tapaau explained that the reason a person is there as a director is to be a public servant — not to remodel their office, not to get a new SUV to drive around.

“They’re not there to travel as much as they can. If you’re traveling, good, bring back new knowledge. If you’re looking at your office, good. Let people come into your office and talk to them. Let them know that you have an open-door policy that they can come into,” he said.

“Those are the kind of directors that I believe I’aulualo and I would love to see. People who would treat people right, people who would help us — if we get elected — achieve the goals and objectives of this new administration,” he concluded.


Responding in Samoan, candidate for governor Nuanuaolefeagaiga Saoluaga Nua claimed that current cabinet members are older — at 60 or 70 years old — and they don’t have the strength to push the government’s work forward.

He complained that when the public visits government offices, by 12noon or 1p.m., there are no workers. He described this as a problem due to lack of management oversight as there is no love and care for the public.

He said the government needs younger people, who are well educated, but many have left the island to pursue a better future, as they weren’t able to do that in American Samoa. He alleges that in many government offices the director might not know all of the duties and responsibilities of that office.

If Nua and Satele team is elected, he said they will first select a committee of about two to three people that will accept applications for those wishing to be members of the cabinet and will conduct a vetting process, based on requirements set forth to select those who have the experience and knowledge.

He said management criteria will be in place for the directorship selection process.


Also responding in Samoan, candidate for governor Lt. Gov. Lemanu Palepoi Sialega Mauga said the first criteria they will look at, is educational background, which is probably the same for the other gubernatorial teams.

Another criteria is, experience in the work that is required and also it’s important that the person doesn’t have a criminal record, he noted.

Lemanu also said that the person must be honest — honest in serving the public, and the government. The person must also be trustworthy — not only as a leader but also have the trust of the employees and the public.

The team would also look at a “mixture” of male and female cabinet members as well as the younger generation to serve in government.

Every election year, he said there’s always a lot of talk about the future generation,  but the youth don’t have a voice in building government.