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Four candidates for the congressional delegate seat were brought together to pitch their platforms to the Guam Young Professionals (GYP) at the Outrigger hotel yesterday.
Incumbent Guam Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D), Sen. Frank Blas Jr. (R), Karlo Dizon (D), and Jonathan Frank Blas Diaz (I) were each given the opportunity to speak to the group and answer questions from the GYP members.
The forum is part of a three-part series to get to know this year’s candidates. On Wednesday, Sept. 19, all the other incumbent candidates will present their platforms while the other new candidates will be given the opportunity to speak on Wednesday, Oct. 24.
Yesterday, congressional candidates discussed their positions on Guam’s political status, the visa waiver program, the economy, and the military buildup.
“This was not a debate. This was just an educational forum so that they could talk about their own platforms,” stated Andrew Mariano, Be Influential Subcommittee chairperson for GYP. “It’s not just for GYP members, it’s also just to get the word out. Register, vote, and have your voice heard, but not only to make an educated and informed decision on who you vote for.”
Bordallo described her efforts in support of the War Claims Act, military buildup, China visa waiver, Compact Impact funds, and veterans’ benefits. She also talked about women’s issues and issues helping local businesses receive HUB-zone status to compete for federal and military contracts.
For his part, Blas talked about defining Guam’s representation in Congress, the trials of Guam’s World War II survivors, and the welfare of Guam’s soldiers currently serving.
As the only Republican candidate for the seat, Blas also stressed the importance of having a Republican representative to the Republican Senate and House of Representatives. He proposes combining effectiveness with experience.
Dizon promoted his platform of a new way forward which addresses community dissatisfaction with the current politics and economy. He also spoke about the need for self-sufficiency and a congressional representative that is “more pro-active than reactive.”
According to Dizon, Guam faces many problems that need to be addressed, such as record high deficits and unemployment as well as a future hinged on a military buildup that is “non-transparent.”
Diaz, the only Independent candidate, was adamant about Chamorro rights and Guam’s self-determination. He emphasized Guam’s capability to be a multicultural community that could bring together the countries of Asia and the United States. He also called for a change of the public structure.
The GYP is a committee of the Guam Chamber of Commerce that represents professionals under the age of 40. The GYP consists of three subcommittees: Be Influential, Be Inspired, and Be Connected.