politiku

2016 US Representative Candidates’ Forum – School of Business and Public Administration, University of Guam

This was a fast-paced evening with ten questions, each candidate given one minute to offer an answer.  Incumbent Representative Madeleine Z. Bordallo, Guam’s current non-voting delegate in the House, was joined by Republican challengers in Margaret Metcalfe, Governor Calvo’s liaison in Washington, D.C., and former governor Felix Camacho, and by her Democratic primary challenger Tony Babauta.

UOG professor Ron McNinch and Annette Taijeron Santos, the dean of the School of Business and Public Administration, welcomed the public.
August 24, 2016

Former Gov. Camacho – Buenas noches, good evening. Tonight is an important night for this election. Perennial issues that for years have remained unresolved, war reparations, military buildup, Obamacare, better services for veterans, Compact Impact, etc. First, desire to offer selves as candidates, open lives to scrutiny and rigor of campaigning. Experience and years of service are very beneficial. Understand the process. Effective leadership is marked by the results it brings. Proven record of partnering with federal government and bringing results.  

Director Margaret Metcalfe – Buenas noches. My nickname is Pudding, I am Chamorro. My husband and I have lived here on the island but have enjoyed careers and raised out children here, owned and operated business here. I am not a politician. I am a businesswoman, a successful businesswoman, mother, grandmother, and coach. Brought our story of Guam to people around the country, showing them how important we are. Governor’s liaison in DC to executive branch. cBuilt relationships with the new faces in Washington, to know more about who we are and how important we are to the balance of power in Pacific. Only candidate with no fundraisers, owe no favors to anyone. We are a lot more than the tip of the spear. Must work together, bring our concerns to Washington. Together, we can do this.

Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo – Warm Håfa adai to everyone. Welcome students, and Dr. McNinch for bringing us all together. Interesting campaign. Apologize because was supposed to go to Vet Talk program with Mr. Devlin tonight, already scheduled for it, but he kindly rescheduled. I’ve been fourteen years in the US congress, quite successful in getting things down. They didn’t know much about Guam when I went. Thought it was Guatemala. Brought over a hundred Congresspeople to Guam. Worked across the aisle. We’re just one seat. Leadership roles. Ranking member of readiness committee in defense committee.

Secretary Tony Babauta – Nice to be back at UOG. Thank you students for hosting. Made significant investments as assistant secretary to repair field house, renewable energy initiative, Green Army, buy local initiative. My competitor touts her seniority in Congress. But I ask you, what is seniority without a depth of knowledge and substance on these issues? What is seniority without passion? Sixteen years in D.C. Passion. Came home to use experience and Obama appointment to be a voice for Guam in nation’s capital.

Q&A:

1. As delegate, how will you address Compact migration concerns?

Metcalfe: Compact is over thirty years in operation, we have suffered growing losses every year increasing, over $145 million now, big expense, negative impact must be defused. Take a look at migrant/guest criminals, send them back. $24,000 cost a day now for medical and other issues.

Babauta: Must be flexible. Have a conversation, no script, no notes. Holistic approach. Leaders in FAS involved. community approach. Very religious community, must involve pastors. Be firm on commutation policy like Governor just started. Compassionate as well.

Camacho: Remengesau of Palau says the oceans of the pacific do not divide us, they bring us closer together. Generations of migrants now immersed in our community. Work with DC, Interior, Micronesian Chief Summit, collaborate on issues that affect our islands, good positive approach. All part of a community here. Many people from different walks of life and different islands call Guam home. cWork together to find solutions.

Bordallo: Migrants an important part of our community, have contributed much. Increased minimum funding in Congress. New bill for $180 million in Congress to offset costs of migrants, make them eligible for Medicaid.

2. What is the best way Guam can improve its economy?

Babauta : education, training, take advantage of the job opportunities available. Smart economic policies. Worked with Dept of Commerce to create GDP for Guam.  

Bordallo: Introduced hub zone in Congress, legislation for entrepreneurs in Guam to do business with military, can’t rely on only tourism and military. Third economic leg to create jobs in IT and telecommunications.  

Camacho: Greatest number of jobs created in company from small businesses, entrepreneurs. Here on Guam, tourism is number one, military number two. Federal programs such as Native American loan program. In office, wrote and requested from Dept of Agriculture, in 2012 approved, federal funding for gov Guam, private nonprofit, to build infrastructure, using federal programs.

Metcalfe: Having qualified personnel draws businesses to our island. Must get rid of mandates that are not business friendly. Having a stable medical facility to care for the employees they bring to the table. Make sure H2 visas come back from the Philippines. Training. Implement all of our resources.

3. If elected, or re-elected, what is your biggest priority?

Bordallo: I’m not a single-issue candidate, never have been. If the people come to me with an issue, I go right at it. Economy, military buildup, etc. Whatever is important to Guam.

Camacho: perennial issues we all know of, war reparations, veterans benefits. H1V, H2V, temporary worker visas — continuous refusal or denial of these. Number one. Second, Compact Impact funding, affects all of us. Draws on the revenues of our island.  

Metcalfe: Compact. Unless we are able to control the negative impact of the Compact, we cannot sustain our society, our culture, our way of life is at risk. Go to our federal partners, have them be responsible for what they put to us in the original Compact. If not that, all the rest of this is moot.

Babauta: Pursuing greater veterans’ access to care. Bottom of barrel for funding per veteran. Secondly, H2V visa problem. Administrative attention. War reparations, should have been done back in 2009.

 
4. Advice for students going into public service?

Camacho: EPIC, millennials are experiential, . . . Stay in school, get as much education as possible. Work in private sector beforehand for training, improve skill level, pursue dreams.  

Babauta: Do it! The island needs good leaders, the world, our nation. I worked with Former Gov. Bordallo, Lt. Gov. Bordallo, Former Senators, don’t lose touch with the people, figure our what their priorities are. Sacrifice but so rewarding.

Metcalfe: Tremendous honor, responsibility to serve community and island. Bring your heart into this. The people you serve are your friends and your families. Greater cause than finding your career path.  

Bordallo: my married life began with public service. If you’re interested in politics, get into public service at the beginning — volunteerism is so very gratifying.

5. How can the government of Guam have a stronger voice with the federal government?

Metcalfe: to be heard, we must be a voice at the table. they offer us a place. We have a responsibility to those who have put their faith and trust in us to work hard on their behalf. Won’t happen overnight. Be an active participant. Must seek voting representation in House, representation in Senate.  

Camacho: Advocate for your people, use full resources of position. Respect. Collaboration. Effectiveness. Represent the character of your people and island of Guam. All it took as governor was effective communication, letting them understand our challenges. Partners they became on many different fronts, using federal programs to help our people. Job of the delegate.

Bordallo: I approach every issue with a one Guam voice, work across the aisle. Guam has one seat in a Congress with 541 members. I worked closely with Gov. Camacho and Calvo, legislature and people. Bring everybody together. Go forward with one ?Guam voice.

Babauta: Delegate must be a strong voice, passionate about the issues. Experience. Team Guam approach. Puerto Rico has about fifty lobbyists working on our behalf, we have a public law that prevents us from doing t hat!

6. Improving medical services for military veterans.

Bordallo: can never do enough for veterans, debt of gratitude. Brand new naval hospital, established veterans’ consul fourteen years ago, funded Seahawks clinic at naval hospital, I found $5.5 million for an expansion. Doctors and services now in north and south health clinics, have a new review for veterans who never received their medals.

Metcalfe: as a prior candy striper here during Vietnam, this is personal. Hospital makes more money by billing veterans. The VA pays less than they’d normally pay by sending people off island. I would love to fight, and have been working with commander, to see if Guam could be accepted as one of those test centers, would be slam dunk, we are the most remote territory.

Babauta: this issue should be personal for each and every one of us in this room. No disrespect but veterans I’ve spoken to are not happy with services currently, even just simply getting a prescription ,getting to speak on the phone with people, etc. Current leadership seems not to have been fighting for the veterans according to who he’s spoken to.

Camacho: Spoke with psychiatrist who cares for vets, in one sentence what is most important? She says they need more of everything. Primary care, mental health, homelessness, benefits, women’s health, etc. Frustration because the process of applying for disability or seeking service is so cumbersome, ineffective.

7. Do you support a second effort for Guam commonwealth?

Babauta: No, there’s no such political status. CNMI as is Puerto Rico are commonwealths but also are territories in territorial clause of US Constitution. Just a couple months ago, passed legislation to save Puerto Rico from debt.

Bordallo: Working with Esther Kiyana. Current commission doing great job to educate public. I will not prejudge the choice of the people but will support whatever they select. Asking the public and the people to take this up soon, should vote soon, very important.

Camacho: Commonwealth was pursued during Ada administration. Chosen over statehood during plebiscite. Supported by Blas and Underwood. Bush and Clinton pushed it back. We wanted self-determination and mutual consent, they said absolutely not. So it failed. Guam Legislature took out commonwealth option then. Free Associaigon isn’t a status, it’s a treaty with the US.

Metcalfe: both CNMI and PR want out of commonwealth, historically our representatives have said we weren’t ready, but when will we be? We are the stewards of this island, owe it to our next generations.

8. Views on military buildup?

Camacho: 2006, second half of my term, great initiative, complete by 2014, we said it was too much. ROD of $8.7 billion to be spent over next decade or so, 5000 Marines and their dependent so. Must be beneficial for American patriot inside the fence line and the American patriot outside the fence line. Life as we know it will change. Must be sure our people, our environment, our culture, are protected.  

Babauta: Political status — commonwealth isn’t a status, free association is recognized by UN. Delegate must find opportunities going forward, improving life outside the gate too. DOD will get what it wants . . . 

Metcalfe: recent meeting at Pentagon with reps of State, they are not unreasonable. They said: We can’t read your minds, your representative must be here to explain your concerns. We’re not okay. We need to take care of our people first, have representative present at each and every gathering of these folks.

Bordallo: support buildup, but must be a win-win situation. We’ve been holding DOD accountable to Guam, and have cooperated, they’ve gone back on some firing ranges etc. Situation in world today with security, again threatened by North Korea, so need military here, I was instrumental in bringing THAAD to Guam. Will bring job creations in IT and telecommunications.

9. Do you feel the federal government makes decisions carefully regarding Guam?

Metcalfe: we do have representation and friends in Congress, but they defer often to the military. In their best interests — our best interests must be put in front of them and fought for. We have to be vocal. Our future leaders, you need to be up on all of this and you need to be vocal, putting yourself in front every time. Paramount to all of us.

Camacho: federal policy and decisions often made in consideration of states, ignorant of or indifferent to the impact on the insular territories. Should be a collaborative effort between all territories, point out and amend any issues that may affect us. Insular territories have no voice in the Senate. do not have full representation. Often our interests are never considered whatsoever.  

Bordallo: my priority always has been ensuring Guam has a seat at the table. Seniority and leadership I have can now be leveraged to ensure our issues with the federal government are addressed.  

Babauta: have no vote, must insert yourself somewhere along the process where you can have a voice. How can we have a stronger voice or influence? Tie our own hands with laws we pass. States, districts, other territories, have more people on board, help penetrate bureaucracy and Senate where otherwise less influence.

10. Should federal govt reimburse Guam for earned income tax credit?

Bordallo: 441 members actually, must count territories, we also vote in committee, are considered members. EITC real burden, challenge for many years. Supported legislation to cover Guam, delinking, supported San Nicolas decision, Guam must do this, not rely on Congress.

Camacho: EITC came to bear when I was governor. Class action lawsuit refuting prior attorney general decisions. Unenforceable, will not pay. $90 million cost. Now in excess of $60 million per annum. Unsustainable. Direct subsidy paid 100% by govGuam, your taxpayer dollars. N reimbursement from Feds ever. Need to be exempt or must be paid by Feds. Compact Impact.

Metcalfe: this is unsustainable. US prints money when has to pay credits, we do not have that option. Money comes out of your pockets. Should enlist all territories, have them benefit from same plans Americans have in States. Unfunded mandates were forced to take on, our tax rate exceeds those of the States’.

Babauta: fed govt should def reimburse us for EITC. Should pursue delinkage, parallel course in arguing in Congress that Compact Impact funds not reimbursed to us should be reimbursed indirectly in some manner, pay EITC in lieu or in recognition no funding in Compact now or beyond 2023 to repay us for services taken up by FAS migration. Parallel tracks.

Closing Statements

Metcalfe: when it comes time to meet our Maker, our lord won’t ask you how many times said rosary or went to mass, but how did you treat your family and care for your community, did you make them better? My answer will be yes, my panel represents over decades of people representing us in different capacities. We don’t have the luxury to continue to elect failed career politicians who’ve let us down time and time again. Pick up that mantle and bring our voices to Washington. Wait fourteen, sixteen years, and nothing gets better. Vote August 27 for me.

Babauta: opportunities to see what the differences are among us. If you have passion and substance on the campaign trail, you don’t need notes. I should have the answer right there. I’m passionate. I have substance, experience, want to serve.  

Bordallo: I stand to thank the University of Guam community, students here, thank you to the people of Guam for giving me forty years of service to them. Wish to build on the progress I’ve made. Take the high road. Won’t belittle any of my opponents, they’re friends, wish them well. In Congress, I’m known as Ms. Guam, here she comes, what does she want again, Not Madeleine Bordallo.

Camacho: Si Yu’os ma’åse para todu. Era of change, never before four candidates running. Change is in the air. Want to represent the character of our people, our nation, respectful, collaborative, find solutions, faith in God, bring all parties together. Not only here on Guam but throughout Micronesia, we are all connected, Hawaii, USA. Let us determine our future. Be a part of the solution . We must forge our policies that bring our solutions.

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