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SIX candidates spoke to members of the Rotary Club of Guam at the Marriott yesterday.
The new candidates in the race – Mike Limtiaco, Brant McCreadie, Joe San Agustin, Gary Gumataotao, Michael F.Q. Sanchez San Nicolas, and Tommy Morrison – were each grilled on topics including the pros and cons of the military buildup, the Retirement Fund, education, Compact Impact funds, and more.
All candidates stated their support for the military buildup because it provides economic benefits. However, Limtiaco stated the military buildup may also affect the island’s infrastructure.
McCreadie said the Democrats need to get out of the way of the professionals who can facilitate the buildup, such as construction workers. “The con is in the Legislature right now, the majority. They’re in the way. They need to get out of the way and let the professionals get their jobs done.”
San Nicolas argued that the economic benefits of the buildup will also provide cultural benefits. “When there are no economic opportunities, the culture leaves the island. Our people leave the island. Our language speakers leave the island. Our practitioners leave the island. And there are so many of them out there.”
Better economic stability will encourage people – and the culture – to remain on the island, he said.
During the forum, Rotarians asked the candidates about their opinion on having a part-time Legislature.
“I think it’s already a part-time Legislature,” Gumataotao stated, jokingly. He added that a paycheck encourages the average citizen who wants to serve the public but needs the income.
Limtiaco is in support of a part-time Legislature and noted Guam is one of only six other states that has a part-time Legislature. "There's some disproportionate statistics. The decision, at the very least," he stated, "needs to be decided on the floor."
McCreadie stated he does support a part-time Legislature. “However, I do believe that leadership is full-time.”
“I support putting it on the ballot and letting the people decide,” McCreadie added.
According to San Nicolas, a full-time Legislature is required for an effective system of checks and balances which ensures that executive authority is not decentralized.
San Agustin believes that, this time, a part-time Legislature is not possible. A better organized and better functioning government should be attained first, he said.
Morrison does not support a part-time Legislature. The various issues, including the military buildup, the budget and the China visa waiver, require the attention of a full-time Legislature.
Each candidate also shared the different ways they would reduce government expenditure. All agreed that government costs needed to be cut, and in response to a follow-up question, each candidate shared which government department or agency should be privatized or removed altogether.
McCreadie said the agency that prepares the budget projections should be cut. “We have to get rid of guys that can’t balance a budget and cannot have accurate projections,” he said.
San Agustin stated a new hiring system mirroring the federal system that narrows down applicants by skills and qualifications should be adopted to minimize instances of political favor.
Limtiaco suggested that the school bus system or the procurement process should be privatized to save money. Limtiaco stated, “There’s too much politics involved in the procurement process. There are too many hands in that pot.”
Morrison said the transportation system in general should be privatized or converted into public-private partnerships. He also advocated a transition to a performance-based budgeting process
San Nicolas suggested following the cues from the private sector and the government must be sure to avoid monopolization of assets, such as the Port Authority or Guam Power Authority.
Gumataotao stated GPA should be privatized, along with the hospital.
“We don’t belong in the hospital business,” stated Gumataotao, who suggested it be taken over by the federal government or privatized.