Hafa Adai and Tirow. It is an honor to be able to speak here today. Jim, Kyle, and Kelli, thank you for the invitation. Gentlemen…and lady.. it is an honor to share a stage with so many who gave given to our community over the years. This is the only public forum where all mayoral candidates will have the chance to appear together and I thank the chamber board and membership for giving the community, especially the business community, the opportunity to hear from all of us.
Before I get started I wondered if I could quickly poll the audience. With a show of hands, who here depends on tourism for their business?
Come on now, who in this room depends on tourism to put food on the table?
Alright, thank you.
That’s almost everybody in this room.
And I would add to those hands the government workers who depend on you paying taxes to fund their salaries.
Tourism is everyone’s business is not a meaningless phrase.
Tourism is the lifeblood of our economy and the focus of the entire government right now, even the mayor’s office, should be working to figure how to help YOU create jobs and pump money into this sinking economy.
So how will a Mayor Angelo administration support tourism and help YOU create jobs?
But what does that mean?
For starters I will continue my practice of going out with community groups and planting beautiful trees around our villages and continuing to encourage public participation, just as I have for the last 4 years. In fact, if you would like to join us, I will be with the boy scouts this Saturday morning planting flame trees in Koblerville.
I will take care of our dead dog and stray dog problems once and for all. I’ve worked for years with PAWS, but as a private citizen I do not have the authority to implement the regulations that are already written or to hand out the dog tags that are sitting on a shelf in the mayor’s office. Tinian was able to build a shelter and implement a program for under $10,000 AND they picked up 1000 strays in the first six months. There is NO reason we cannot follow their example.
AND I will continue to do what I am probably best well known for doing, which is to go out every weekend and pick up trash off our beaches, parks, and roads.
And as mayor I will finally have the authority as one of the eight government agencies charged with enforcing public law 6-37, the CNMI Litter control act.
Destination enhancement is also about taking care of our tourist sites, especially our natural tourist sites, which most believe are the main draw to these islands. When we get a lot of rain, like we did this past weekend, coral secondary roads wash out onto into our lagoon, damaging the coral and reducing water quality. This degrades year after year the main attraction that draws tourists to Saipan.
Paving the roads to Laolao, Obyan, and Mount Tapachou is an investment in maintaining our tourist sites and our dive sites…and has the added side effect of being good for the environment.
Destination enhancment is also about community programs and community events. Today’s tourist is not satisfied with simply sitting on a beach. They want local interaction and immersion. We have some great signature events with the Taste of the Marianas, Flame Tree Festival, Tagaman, Xterra, and Hell of the Marianas and those need to continue. But with dwindling resources, I believe there is a proposal to slash MVAs budget by a third or more, I would propose that the Mayor’s Office can supplement those community events. How about a series of road races called the Mayor’s Grand Prix? How about promoting our agricultural fairs and our fishing derbies right along side our other marquis events?
Destination enhancement is also about getting Saipan online. Working in partnership with MVA, the mayor’s office could facilitate access to information about Saipan. An online community calendar advertising these events in one place in multiple languages would allow today’s tourist to plan their vacation around our community events. And the way we would reach these tourists is to use social networking websites like Mixi, Facebook and Twitter. I do this for my personal website and attract about 40,000 unique visitors per month. We could easily apply these techniques to our marketing of Saipan.
These are reasonable, attainable goals my administration could accomplish in the first term. These will be the priorities of my first years in office.
In accomplishing these goals I will do what I have been doing for the last several years. I will rely on the private sector, the community, and various government agencies to come together like we have done on so many community projects these last few years.
I have learned a lot these last few years on how to get things done here. I am ready to apply these skills NOW TODAY as your Mayor.
Finally, I realize that there are also a host of other activities and services that the Mayor’s office presently maintains or facilitates. One of my first tasks will be to conduct an audit to determine the effectiveness of the office, so that the Mayor’s office and its budget can focus on providing our community, and our small businesses, with the platform that is needed to keep us in business.
I humbly ask for your support in this upcoming election. My name is Angelo O’Connor Villagomez, please visit my website at angelovillagomez.com.
I will be happy to speak with anyone and answer any questions following the close of these presentations.
Again, thank you for the opportunity to speak today.
Si yu’us ma’ase and God bless.