By Alex J. Rhowuniong
How hard is it to predict the outcome of Nov. 6?
Tenorio: Leon Guerrero has conflicts of interest;
Leon Guerrero: Current administration didn’t do its job
The Republican Party’s gubernatorial team of Ray Tenorio and Tony Ada is finally facing-off with its Democratic opposition, Lou Leon Guerrero and Joshua Tenorio.
The Tenorio-Ada teams weathered the primary despite a dark cloud hovering overhead since July 7 — the Tenorio gun grabbing incident. Before then, Republican Party of Guam chairman Jerry Crisostomo endorsed Tenorio unequivocally, pledging the party’s full support and there has been no announced change to that position. On Sept. 17, Tenorio was charged in the Superior court of Guam with “reckless conduct, reckless conduct with a firearm, obstructing government functions and official misconduct.”
How will this incident affect Tenorio’s candidacy? We will find out when the voters make their verdict known on Nov. 6.
The Democratic Party’s team has its own challenges to overcome. Although the team won the primary handily, the Guam Citizens for Public Accountability and Guamanians for Fair Government have launched a write-in campaign endorsing Sen. Frank Aguon and his running mate Alicia Limtiaco. And the second placing Democratic ticket has done little to discourage this effort despite signing off on the Democratic Party “loyalty pledge.”
With the Nov. 6 general election coming soon, the Pacific Island Times would like to share the results of our “door knocking” to find out more about their choices.
Following are their responses to our Q&A.
Pacific Island Times: Between now and Nov. 6, what is one thing your team desperately needs to focus on in order to win?
Ray Tenorio: Our focus is to get our message out. We will speak to the progress we achieved together as a community, talk about our transformational plans for the future, and factually highlight what differentiates our team.
Lou Leon Guerrero: Our people want change. And they know who they can trust to give it to them. That is the relentless focus of our campaign and it's why we are going to win for Guam. From Yigo to Malesso, and every village in between, our people are tired of the way things are. And they know we can't afford four more years of the same old politics that's left us with higher taxes, less safety, and more debt.
Okay, so, obviously, a lot of people believed and voted for you in the primary in order for you to remain in this race; obviously, too, it’s because you believe your team will do a better job at running the government next. What makes you a better candidate?
Tenorio: We connect with the common man. We grew up poor, in a working family. I went to public school my whole life and had to work hard to make ends meet. I worked jobs like frying chicken in restaurants, sweeping and mopping floors, and washing cars at Jackson’s car wash.
Tony Ada is a veteran who successfully ran a small business, Ada’s Funeral Home. These are important life experiences, making it easier to relate to and serve the people. In order to be an effective leader, it’s best when a candidate understands first-hand the struggles working families face, the troubles of everyday people as well as the small business owner and the frustration veterans face.
Leon Guerrero: I've helped small businesses create hundreds of good paying jobs, secured health insurance for women entrepreneurs through the Guam Women's Chamber, and fought to increase the minimum wage--all from the private sector. For nearly eight years now, I've seen this government fail as working families fall further and further behind. I know what we have to do to widen the circle of economic opportunity on Guam, drive responsible investment, and make better healthcare available and affordable.
What are your strengths? Your weaknesses?
Tenorio My strengths are my life and professional experiences, my work ethic, and my passion to give back to an island that has made me who I am today. I get things done and surround myself with talented people, from different walks of life regardless of social class, age, party affiliation, race, or gender. On weaknesses, I didn’t grow up in a perfect home, nor did I have a privileged life. I grew up poor. Like most people, I’ve had many challenges, but I faced each one and worked my way through every hardship.
Leon Guerrero: I started my professional life as a cardiac nurse. In that job, a single second can mean the difference between life and death. It demands that you assess information quickly, act even quicker, and learn the very real consequences of failure. These are the lessons I have carried with me throughout my life. My weaknesses are simple. I'm impatient for change and I become disappointed when working with people whom I trust will be honest and truthful. I very rarely believe that "this can't be done” is an answer to anything.
How do you assess your opponent?
Tenorio: The major challenge they will have in leading our people is the conflicts of interest. Lou Leon Guerrero comes from a long line of successful bankers. She owns and manages a $2 billion bank, much of which is the result of government of Guam deposits. She has ownership interest in other businesses that do business regularly with the Government of Guam and conflicts with being governor.
The Bank of Guam does business with the government of Guam every single day and holds over $650 million of the government of Guam’s funds in accounts. As governor, she cannot recuse herself from managing government finances as this goes hand in hand with day to day operations. Nor will simply divesting herself of Bank of Guam shares and placing them in a trust pass the “litmus test.” In order to remove this unchecked conflict of interest, she would have to remove all government deposits from the Bank of Guam to a bank unaffiliated with her or her family so as not to gain from her being governor. She has not made any formal announcement of taking such action.
Leon Guerrero: That's the point! Our campaign isn't about me and Josh, or Ray and Tony. It's about you, and the thousands of voters who hired this administration to do a job it just didn't do. By nearly every measure our people feel less safe, more taxed, and increasingly distrustful of the government elected to serve them. None of that will change with four more years of the status quo. We aren't saying it will be easy or that it will happen overnight, but you deserve to trust your government again--to know that it's on your side--and every day that we are in Office that is what you can expect from us.
What do you think are the qualities people look for in a governor?
Tenorio: People look for real leaders who consistently serve the people’s interest, with experience and that both understand their problems and can do something to help solve them. They are looking for someone who has a plan for a brighter future —for them and their children—coupled with the ability to fulfill that vision.
Leon Guerrero: Honesty, Integrity, trustworthiness, compassion, strength, good judgment, vision, humility, energy, intelligence, a strong work ethic, and courage.
How will you be different from the Calvo administration?
Tenorio: Tony and I will focus our time and invest in people’s skills attainment as a means to empower them to achieve higher paying jobs and fulfill their dreams. The Calvo administration has made major improvements in raising the quality of life for our people. Providing tax refunds in a much shorter time frame is one of them. I will pay tax refunds even faster than the Calvo administration.
Leon Guerrero: We will say what we mean and mean what we say. We will always be worthy of your trust and you won't doubt who we work for. If we fail at something, we will admit it openly, and correct it accordingly. We believe that “fiscal responsibility” is the cornerstone of good government not just the punch line in a press release. Our decisions will be made for the next generation not the next election and we won't give ourselves pay raises while public schools are short on cash.
Lately, there have been a lot of scuffle between the governor and the legislature with regard to what's good for the people of Guam. A little confrontation is healthy, but too much is… too much. What can your team do to ensure you are all on the same sheet of music, working together for the good of the people?
Tenorio: The next legislature will be filled with old friends and new ones. Our agenda will be an agenda good for all Guamanians and we are committed to working with every incoming senator, regardless of party affiliation, to move our island forward.
Leon Guerrero: We believe in the separation of powers and in the essential role the Legislature must play in ensuring taxpayer dollars are wisely spent. Without the watchful eye of senators like the late Speaker Ben Pangelinan or Benjamin J.F. Cruz, we would have never known about sweetheart deals involving those close to the administration, or the illegal retroactive pay raises authorized after the 2014 election. We may occasionally disagree with the Legislature but it won't be because we give them reason to doubt our honesty. We fundamentally believe that cooperation is better than conflict; that bridges are better than walls.
It seems misuse and abuse of government funding is a common denominator for most of the administrations, past and present. Tell the voters how you are going to solve this never-ending problem for them.
Tenorio: Fraud, waste and abuse is not exclusive to the government. It is a human misconduct and it exists in the private and public sector, be it in the federal government, the Department of Defense, and every other government and country and organization around the world. Tony and I are committed to reducing such violations of trust by putting controls in place and bringing to justice those persons who violate policy and law. We are committed to working with newly elected public auditor B.J. Cruz and the Office of Public Accountability on implementing audit recommendations that improve accountability in government.
Leon Guerrero: As CEO of one of the largest, federally regulated financial institutions on Guam, one thing is clear: misuse someone else's money and you go to jail. The misuse of taxpayer money, whether it is for the E911 system or the recycling revolving fund should be equally unacceptable and it shouldn't be seen as the normal course of business. Our platform calls for the adoption of a fully integrated Financial Management System. This system will provide real time information to citizens and senators alike--making our financial data accurate, useful, and fully transparent.
How will you improve relations with the federal government?
Tenorio: With a Republican president in the White House and a majority in the House of Representatives and Senate, we will continue to build on the relationships in place to advance Guam’s goals. I will be traveling to Washington D.C. within weeks of being elected to meet with the president’s cabinet members as well as elected leaders to deliver solutions for our people.
Leon Guerrero: I believe that we need to have deeper engagement with the federal government, at both the administrative and legislative levels. We depend on our Guam Delegate to tell Guam’s story and to represent us in the U.S. Congress. However, I believe that there is more to do in working with the administration and with specific federal agencies which are key to making an administrative decision in our favor or to provide support to our delegate seeking changes to law which will benefit us. We need individuals who know how to navigate Washington D.C.’s political landscape and I intend to utilize their experience to help us overcome issues which have harmed Guam financially, hampered our ability to provide for our people, and prevented us from growing economically stronger.
Tenorio: Self-determination and political status are issues that should be rightfully decided by the Chamorro people. Tony and I are committed to moving this process forward and will both respect and execute the final decision made.
Leon Guerrero: I personally want a closer, fairer relationship with the United States. And I believe Free Association with the U.S. will allow Guam the best of both worlds--the freedom to determine our own economic destiny and the security of maintaining a dual citizenship with the most powerful nation in the history of the world.
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