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Lt. Gov. Faoa Aitofele Sunia & Taufete’e John Faumuina announce candidacy

Lt. Governor Faoa Aitofele Sunia and Taufete’e John Faumuina officially announced their candidacy for Governor and Lieutenant Governor in the 2012 general elections, last Friday, Nov. 18, during a Campaign Committee meeting that took place at HC Fano’s Guest Fale, in Fagaalu, late afternoon.

Well attended by supporters, the meeting focused on the team formally announcing their gubernatorial intent, as well as officially organizing their election committee for the general election of 2012.

The meeting featured a keynote speech to the gathering from Faoa, in both Samoan and English.

It was the first time Faoa had formally addressed the team’s supporters — kicking off the team’s bid for the top two leadership seats in the territory.

“Our hats are in the ring. Yes, we are now in the race. We are not in it just to compete, we are in it to win. Our interest in winning is so that we can work together in using our experience to help build a better place to call home,” said the Lt. governor in his speech. He thanked his many supporters, friends and family, as well as high chiefs and orators for their support.

The Lt. governor introduced the team’s chairman, “High Orator Lauvao Haleck,” and thanked him for accepting the chairmanship.

“I want to thank Lauvao for accepting his selection as our chairman. The name ‘Lauvao’ is not new to local politics. It was the title that was held by one of the first Speakers of the House of our Fono, Lauvao Aifili. That Lauvao later became ‘Lutali’, and was our second elected governor. Haleck, or Makisi in Samoan, was a businessman who served our islands for many years, and even today the Haleck family he started is deeply involved in the economic life of our Territory.”

Faoa also introduced the team’s campaign slogan:

“… our campaign slogan, “O ti’a e malie, e fifimalie”. It is based on the old Samoan sport of tagati’a, or light spear throwing, similar to the javelin, called a ti’a. A winning ti’ais one, when the ti’ais thrown or hurled in a smooth and quiet manner, it travels with grace in flight and thereby achieving greater distance towards the target.

“That is our fervent wish and our prayer to you, our supporters. In the sport of ti’athrowing, it is always the ti’athat flies smoothly and quietly, and with grace, and is steady and does not shake or waver, that ends up ahead. We want us to fly like a ti’a– be smooth, quiet and steady, as we head for the goal, because we know where we are going and we know what must be done when we arrive.”

Faoa, in his speech, told the gathering of the reasons he chose Taufete’e for his running mate, saying that one of the main reasons is that “Taufete’e can carry the job of governor, in the case of absence or vacancy.That should always be the primary concern of any governor. Tragedies can happen, and we have been through one already. Luckily, the second man was ready.”

He noted Taufete’e’s 40 years of experience in the government — “primarily in economic development, public health and hospital, and lately as a cabinet member in charge of criminal justice planning.”  Faoa emphasized, “The public respects this young leader. It is easy to govern when you have public respect; People who are not well-known to the public do not enjoy that rapport and respect.”

The Lt. governor focused on Taufete’e as “a man of this culture”; his religious leadership in the Nu’uuli Catholic parish, saying, “Anyone desiring to be a leader in American Samoa must be truly religious because in Samoa — God is first”; and his role as a family man with his wife, Akenese of nearly 40 years and having been married only once.

He continued: “Taufete’e and I have known each other and worked together as servants of our government for many years. We both know we can continue to work as a team. If we are chosen to lead our Territory in the next four years, I know that he will faithfully support me. This Governor-Lieutenant Governor relationship is most important. There must never be any dispute or disagreements.”

Faoa addressed what he characterized as people clamoring for change. He said, “My purpose today is not to defend the Togiola administration but to present facts, so that this ‘it’s time for a change’ nonsense is set straight. The present administration and the one that ended in 2008 faced unprecedented financial difficulties. We did not cause them. They were forced upon us. Bear in mind, that what happens in our nation’s capital affects all of us in Territory. When the federal government makes cuts – we feel the pain.” 

The Lt. governor praised Togiola for not taking it lying down. “He stood up and worked furiously to find remedies and relief. Even late last week, he was still in meetings with heads of major companies to consider ways to let them do business here, and allow us to maintain jobs and reap other benefits. Those are the things we need to continue.”

Faoa said, “We are doing well. Yes, we are. There is no reason to make changes or kill programs just because they were started by Togiola, or Tauese, or Lutali. A governor must consider that carefully.”

He noted Taufete’e’s “vast education and experience in economic and business development,” as well as with the hospital — he administered that system for six years — as being most valuable “in these unsettling economic times.”

With his own experience, which includes his two directorships as government Treasurer and his recent oversight of the Dept. of Education operations, Faoa said they “know what must be done” to find practical and affordable solutions. “Rome was not built in a day, and it will take much longer to repair it,” he explained.

Faoa said that both men know that to solve the problems they will need the Legislature’s help.

Noting his experience in the law, as Assistant Attorney General, as counsel in the legislature, a judge pro tem, and in a private law office,  the Lt. governor said, “I know that experience will now come in handy. A governor must be familiar with the laws of the land. So far, I believe I am the only lawyer in this race.”

In summary, Faoa said, “I am not saying that we can solve all issues faced by our government and raise the level of public service immediately. But I want you to be comfortable that, should we be elected, you have a team with wide and solid experience in our local government.”


Faoa-Taufete’e for Governor & Lieutenant Governor Committee

Chair Lauvao Haleck

Vice Chair Faletogo Ilalio 

Treasurer Malemo Tausaga

 Manu'atele Chair Le’i Sonny Thompson

East Chair Utoofili Asofaafetai Maga and Faamausili Faamausili Jr.

Central/Fagaloa Chair Paepaeailua Joe Fiaui 

West Chair Uiagalelei Iona and Faletogo Ilalio 

Committees for campaign include Steering, Publicity, Finance, Fundraising, Absentee and Voter Registration, Youth, Women, Food, Village Visitation, Veterans and Military, and Identification Committee. 

Campaign Headquarters — located in Faga'alu across from the entrance to Matafao Elementary School.

[Samoan version of Faoa’s speech can be found in today’s Lali section of the Samoa News]

(Source: Text of speech released by Campaign Committee)