- By Bernadette H. Carreon, Pacific Note
Aric Nakamura : Youngest senator in Palau
Aric Nakamura, . shares his name, his talent, and his passion for public service with his father, former Palau President Kuniwo Nakamura. But he did more than just to follow the footsteps of his father, he made history as the youngest Palauan senator to have won a very powerful seat in Olbiil Era Kelulau (OEK) or the Palau Congress.
Nakamura just turned 26 on Oct. 27. Although he will be joining a group of much older senators, he is up to the challenge. He views his age as an asset --- a young person who will serve as a role model to the youth.
Nakamura is one proof that there are several young people in Palau making their mark. He did not only win a seat but he was the 4th top vote-getter.
Despite being the youngest among his colleagues, he looks forward to his new job with a sense of optimism, that he will be able to work with them and push their agendas.
According to Nakamura, age is just a number, and that the older generation and his generation can actually work together to focus on activities that will help Palau. He said he can relate to both and doesn't see his age as a barrier to get things moving in Congress.
As a part of the young generation, he said, “I believe that I can fully support their agenda, I can be their representative, their eyes and ears. At the same time with the older generation, I can be a good servant as well.”
He said there are several issues or programs he wanted to focus on but it will be important to continue to dialogue with the people on their needs and how government can improve their lives.
He said the campaign period had showed him that several Palauans especially those living in the outlying states need basic services such as water, electricity, housing, and road projects.
“I will remain constantly pushing for those types. Some states are still in need of those,” Nakamura stated.
He also will help create policies that will encourage young Palauan men and women who out migrated to return to Palau and help build the nation.
Nakamura said he wants to think that his win will encourage young people to enter politics and be a part of shaping Palau’s progress.
The young Nakamura is also thankful for the guidance of his father, that he has always admired him. As the only son, he wanted to follow his footstep.
“As a young kid growing up in a family that was geared toward public service, I got interested. It’s in my blood, it’s in my bones,” Nakamura said.
He said he will continue to ask for guidance and support from his father.
The older Nakamura was the president of Palau from 1993 until 2001. He was instrumental in Palau’s independence from the United States, converting its status as a United Nations trust territory into a sovereign nation.
He said, at a very young age, he was exposed to his father’s work. He would join off-island trips, where he was fortunate to meet world leaders.
Nakamura considers his father not only as a role model but a mentor and best friend. He said his father trained him well. At the young age of 23, he was given the important responsibility of running the family business.
But he started working from the bottom. He worked as an office boy, a heavy equipment operator until he was promoted.
Nakamura looks forward to his new job, saying that he is committed to bring serious change. He also said that he would continue to dialogue with the people and will allow the same access during the campaign. He said it's important to continue to talk to the people to get first hand information on their issues.
“Public service will be my lifetime commitment. I’ll run on the next (elections), up until the Palauan people tell me to stop,” Nakamura said.