Lolo urges cabinet to let the people choose their next leaders
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — With the November 2020 general election only 10 months away, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga reminds cabinet members and ASG leaders to “give our people the chance” to decide on their own, American Samoa’s next leaders and not influence them — especially ASG employees.
“Don’t encourage your employees to join and support your side,” Lolo said during a cabinet meeting last Friday. “Give the employee the right — and chance — to choose the candidate of his/ her choice.” Lolo said the public is aware of the work already done by those who plan to run for office. (He didn’t elaborate on the candidates).
“The least we can do is give them the privilege to decide who to vote for,” Lolo said, and reminded directors to carry out their duties and responsibilities to ensure that everyone is treated equally. “I want you to extend [this] courtesy to your employees.”
He said if a director makes one employee a priority over another because of politics, that is an issue that’s not in the best interest of American Samoa and the government going forward. “When they see that you are behind [a candidate], eventually those people either keep quiet or will follow you,” Lolo continued.
“We have broken” the pattern of many things that have been done in the past following a gubernatorial election, he added. In the past, it’s those who supported the winning candidates that step in to take over and operate the government, while those on the losing side wait patiently until the end of the first 4-year term to try again.
“That’s been broken since this administration,” Lolo said, adding that it’s the Administration’s practice that whoever is qualified for the work is brought in to help move the government forward. “It’s all about you, the directors. If you do the work right, our people will be prepared happily for the upcoming election.”
Lolo said he is not concerned if Lt. Gov. Lemanu P. Mauga plans to run for the governorship, saying if God sees that Lemanu is qualified for the post, that’s how it will be — it’s God’s will. According to Lolo, God sees the right and qualified person to be the leader. If God sees it’s not Lemanu, then that’s where it stands, he said.
He reminded cabinet members, including ASG employees, not to carry out any political activities during working hours or use ASG assets, including government vehicles, for campaigning.
The only exemption is the sitting Lt. Governor, as he was elected by popular vote and extended “privileges” including the use of his government assigned car under local law. Those who plan to seek public office and those who will be heading campaign committees — do not get to use government time and assets, Lolo emphasized.
He advised Lemanu and anyone in government planning to run, to bring forth to the public specific reasons why they are seeking public office.
Unsuccessful gubernatorial candidates — both governor and lt. governor — in the 2012 general election that Lolo-Lemanu made cabinet members include: Afoa Moega Lutu as Attorney General; Le’i Sonny Thompson as Human Resources director and current Police Commissioner; Vaitinasa Dr. Salu Hunkin-Finau as Education director; Iuniasolua Savusa as Homeland Security director; Save Liuato Tuitele as Police Commissioner; and Sandra King-Young, current director of the ASG Medicaid Office.
Lolo told reporters in 2013 that he wants to ensure that all qualified and experienced American Samoans step up to help move the government forward, no matter if they were opposing candidates or supporters of the Lolo/ Lemanu team.