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Passing the torch

Yes&Know By Aline Yamashita

Today, random thoughts. I remember introducing a bill to restrict the size of campaign signs. My motivation was to protect the trees. It was also to support sign teams.

I watch them build the signs, put up the signs, take them down during threatening weather and put them back up.

They also maintain the surroundings so that sword grass doesn’t grow over the signs. It’s a lot of work. Smaller signs would help them out.

I wanted the size to be one foot by one foot – yard-sign size.  Like Hawaii.

 Did not get support.

Years later, Sen. Tommy Morrison further amended campaign sign laws to restrict them from public property.

So today, it is clear who has good connections with property owners. Their campaign signs are up on private property, and they are massive. 

I guess getting their message out is more important than saving the trees and helping the sign crews. But I do wonder how candidates believe they can break the law. Many of the signs are in public easement areas, which is not allowed. If they say they are unaware, they should be aware. They’re fully responsible for their campaigns.

While neither party has a full slate of 15 candidates running for the Guam legislature, it is a good thing there are more than 15.  Competition is a very good element. It is worrisome that elected public service is not enticing for many. Living in a glass house is challenging for the candidate and their family. Also, the current working environment is not inviting. There is a lack of respect and regard that electrifies messages.

It is interesting that there are four people who want to be our congressional representative. It’s mostly interesting to me because this position does not have a vote. But it does have a chair at the table. Presence counts. A vote would be better.

Passing the torch needs to be strategically thought out.  There are several folks who are not Guamanians who would be very happy to make our rules. While we welcome everyone to our island, we need to make sure it remains our island. Of course, we evolve as a community but the spirit of being Guamanian is not something you can simply wear.

The spirit of being one of us is molded by living here, by knowing our customs, by understanding and respecting our history. The spirit of being one of us is honoring time and tradition. The spirit of being one of us is being a visionary with regard for how we got to where we are now.

It is good that the Guam Youth Congress is active. This is a great way to introduce the next set of elected officials.

Sometimes – many times— things take a while. Over a decade ago, I introduced the measure to renovate the labor, delivery and recovery rooms at Guam Memorial Hospital. It is currently being addressed. When we visited the birthing section back then, we all commented on how everything was just the same. Small, cramped and tight. I remember being stuck in the neonatal section while a nurse cared for a very tiny baby. I had a hard time moving on.

I think GMH, Guam Department of Education, and any agency that has huge projects on its table should take a page out of the GPA handbook. As GPA grapples with power generation, they have published plans and progress. We get reports with our bills.  They use electronic billboards. These updates keep us abreast of progress. Not only does this tell us we are important to them, but it also helps us understand steps and missteps. They are truly transparent. Thank you, GPA! Thank you, John Benavente!

John has programs in place to help attract, motivate and train the next set of GPA teams. From engineering to cyber security and probably other areas, in between, John exemplifies visionary leadership.

We need GDOE to let us know everything they are doing.  GMH, too. There is no doubt work is being done but we do not know the actual progress.

Aline Yamashita is a mom, a teacher and former senator. She served in the 31st and 32nd Guam Legislatures. Send feedback to

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