The articles from the Electing Leaders insert are now online.
Electing Leaders: Angelo O’Connor Villagomez For a cleaner, safer SaipanI was disappointed that 5 of the 9 candidates chose not to purchase advertising space in the insert. I thought this was going to be the one and only place where voters could compare all candidates side by side. Instead of all nine candidates, voters only heard from 4. Now there is no place where voters can get a side by side comparison.
By Raquel Bagnol - Variety News Staff
The goal of making Saipan into a cleaner, safer place to live in is one of the driving forces that encouraged Angelo O’Connor Villagomez to join the mayoralty race for the island of Saipan under the banner of the Democratic party.
Villagomez said he is bracing for a very close race.
“All of the other candidates are prominent people in the community and the outcome will likely come down to just a handful of voters,” he said. But he is hopeful that the people will recognize his active involvement in community service and his ability to complete projects and make things happen.
“This is also a good year to be the candidate representing change,” he said.
Vilalgomez’s platform sums up to four areas which, when implemented, would make the big difference Saipan needs.
Villagomez’ s priorities centers on municipal services, community programs, destination enhancement and an honest and open government.
Villagomez said that if elected into office, his first priority would be to address two pressing issues first—do a desk audit of the mayor’s office’s budget and expenditures, and construct an affordable humane animal shelter so the regulations on stray dogs could be implemented.
For the past years, Villagomez has been actively pushing to address the problem of dead dogs and stray dogs once and for all.
He vowed to have the dog tags that are collecting dust at the mayor’s office to be put to use as soon as the stray dog regulations will be implemented, something which he has no plans of delaying once he gets elected.
Saipan as a top destination
His fond memories of Saipan as a paradise is the driving force behind Villagomez’s determination to turn Saipan into a world class destination
“I would like the people to think that I am a hard working mayor who wants to turn Saipan into the tropical paradise I remember from my childhood,” he said.
Considering tourism as the lifeblood of the economy that puts food on the tables of most of the families and businesses here, Villagomez believes that more focus should be poured in enhancing this ailing industry.
“Tourism is everyone’s business is not a meaningless phrase,” Villagomez said.
The hectic race for the mayoralty race is not a hindrance for Villagomez to continue his one hundred and one projects of beautifying the CNMI, something which he had been actively doing for the last four years.
He said he will continue his regular clean-ups in the beaches, roads and the environment and go on with planting trees all over the island.
Over the years, the impression of duplicity in authority and services between the government/administration and the mayor’s office continue to hover, with the mayor’s office dubbed merely as a ‘dummy’.
Villagomez said that this is a question that is often raised when he talks to voters.
“I point out that even with some overlap, services are something not being provided by either the mayor’s office or the central government,” he said.
He added that some areas don’t as much overlap as people think. He added that people just have a misunderstanding of the Mayor’s role.
“The Mayor’s office focuses on secondary road maintenance, while the central government builds and maintains primary roads. There is no overlap there,” Villagomez said.
Citing another function, Villagomez said that the central government takes over solid waste management from the transfer station to the land fill.
“There currently isn’t much solid waste management from the household or business to the transfer station, and that is where the mayor’s office can step in,” he said.
If elected mayor, Villagomez said his office will take responsibility for issues if it falls under the mayor’s authority and won’t blame things on lack of budget or finger-pointing on whose job it is.
Stop travel junkets
Conducting a desk audit and putting an end to the travel junkets in the mayor’s office is one thing Villagomez said he would do if elected into office.
“Eliminating the travel junkets can add nearly $60,000 every year to the services budget for the community,” he said.
With these services in mind and more, Villagomez is appealing for the community’s support in this upcoming election. For more information, visit Villagomez’s Web site at angelovillagomez.com.
I wish there were more forums for the Mayor campaign. The Chamber of Commerce performed its civic duty and invited us to speak, but are there no other community institutions that could host a forum? ACT? CREAM? Taotao Tano? The indigenous group created by Oscar Rasa last year?