Guam Rotarians heard from the three non-partisan candidates for Attorney General Thursday, with only two days remaining until the island's August 25th primary election, but all the candidates adopted the sort of restrained, collegial style rather rare in present-day politics.
Guam attorneys Gary Frank Gumataotao, Douglas Moylan and Leevin Camacho showed few sharp differences and found areas of agreement, such as reforming the child support system and better communicating the duties and functions of the attorney general's office to its constituents.
As members of Guam's small legal community, they know each other and don't appear to be burning any bridges in the future with harsh rhetoric. Gumataotao in fact worked with Moylan, Guam's first elected attorney general.
Gumataotao: "I want to see the office of the attorney general do more than it's been able to do in the past. When Doug [Moylan] was the AG, I worked with Doug. I had the pleasure of working with him for the last three months of his tenure... That three months felt like four years because it was a lot of work. Doug worked with only five million dollars. The budget today is $19 million and they still can't get the work done, and yet Guam hasn't grown at all population wise since then. What's going on with that? If I'm elected AG, the first thing I'm going to do is expand some of the services and I want to cut the budget by 10 percent. Because if people have to choose between groceries and gasoline, it's the fiduciary duty of the stewards of their money to take care of that money and use it as wisely as possible."
As Guam's first elected AG, Moylan acknowledged that his term included a lot of controversy, but said the work of his then office set the foundation for subsequent AGs.
Moylan: "It was like the Marines hitting the beach. We needed to establish a presence within the political, the social community of Guam which created a lot of conflict. Now that there's been four attorney generals to date, I believe that if I was given an opportunity to serve you again, that I have the most to offer and can do the best job. I'm not relearning the books. I would hope that now the offices are more comfortable with one another."
In the face of the lengthier experience of his two competitors, Leevin Camacho slyly suggested that experience alone can make an office holder less capable of adopting innovative approaches to problem-solving.
Camacho: You have to give respect to the opportunities they've had to leave their imprint on the government of Guam. I'm ready for my chance. Although I've been practicing [for only] 12 years, I am truly qualified to run that office and I'm ready and willing to bring a mindset, how do we get the AG's office from good to great?"
Responding to a Rotarian, 'what would you do on your first day in office? question, Camacho said he would focus on improving communication both inside and outside the office. Moylan cited enforcing criminal law as his focus and Gumataotao agreed with Camacho on the communications:
Gumataotao: "I want to make sure the lines are open and that everyone has a direct line to call the AGs office. No more telephone purgatory and we start doing town halls. The AG is responsible to answer to the public, so the buck stops here."
Camacho: "I have so many friends who are victims of crime and they don't know what happens after that." He praised efforts begun by AG Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson to compensate victims and direct restitution for crimes to them.
Moylan said he wanted to restore direct communication between victims and the AG, as was done during his previous tenure. Gumataotao said it's simple. The paid staff of victim advocates at the AGO are not doing their job right.