Saturday, October 31, 2009

Variety Supplemental

This past Friday the Marianas Variety published an advertising supplemental for all candidates running for all offices. The advertisement that went along with this article is posted in my previous post.
Angelo O’Connor Villagomez: At the forefront of community service

Imagine walking on a street on Saipan anytime of the day or night without looking behind and expecting a dog to spring up and tear a portion of your legs.

Imagine driving along Saipan’s roads without having to turn your head in the other direction because a rotting carcass is lying in the middle of the road. Imagine strolling along tree-lined streets and well-maintained sidewalks free of litter. Imagine pristine beaches where you can relax in contentment.

Imagine resting your eyes on private and government structures free from screaming graffiti splattered on the walls.

Imagine a clean, green and beautiful island.

Imagine having a mayor who is dedicated to making all these and more come true.

Community service in the municipality is nothing new for this young Saipan mayoral candidate. In fact, Angelo O’Connor Villagomez has dedicated the past four years in an untiring effort to make the CNMI a beautiful place to live in.

Villagomez has a dream, a vision and a hope of regaining the Saipan of his boyhood days, the paradise that Saipan once was.

“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,” Villagomez earlier said.

This determination is the driving force which prodded Villagomez to work hard and initiate community programs that not only enrich people’s lives but improve the people’s health, too.

BUSY BEE

The last few years has been busy ones for Villagomez as he worked together with the community in painting bus stops and the Japanese Light House, supporting the development of soccer through the co-ed and youth leagues, promoting recycling and the many community activities of the Rotary Club of Saipan, organizing regular beach clean-ups and tree planting activities.

As a volunteer, Villagomez regularly and tirelessly led groups in combing the beaches and collecting loads of rope, discarded fishing gear, plastic bottle and household garbage washed up from the ocean.

PRIORITES

Villagomez’s priorities center on municipal services, community programs, destination enhancement and an honest and open government.

If elected as Mayor, Villagomez vows to address the immediate issues on hand like implementing the long-delayed animal shelter that would spell the end of stray dog problems. He vows to continue his clean-up programs as this creates a rippling effect to making Saipan as a tourist destination.

“Destination enhancement is about community programs and community events,” he said. As mayor, Villagomez said he can initiate a move to create more community events despite the island’s dwindling resources.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Some of Villagomez’s accomplishments under Beautify CNMI:

2006 Saipan Tribune Person of the Year
2007 USDA Earth Team Award
2007 EPA Environmental Award
2009 Congressional Commendation
2006 Island Wide Cleanup with over 3000 volunteers
2009 Island Wide Cleanup with over 4000 volunteers
3000+ trees planted
500+ beach cleanups

Friends of the Monument:

Declaration of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument
2009 EPA Environmental Award
2009 Congressional Commendation

Pet Assistance Welfare Services:

2007 Boonie Dog Show
2008 Boonie Dog Show
2009 Boonie Dog Show

ANGELO FOR MAYOR

For Villagomez, a place as beautiful as Saipan needs passionate leadership.

“We know that our community faces many challenges and without basic services, we all suffer,” he said.

He is urging the community to remember these things, to think of a clean, green and beautiful Saipan when they go to the polls.

“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. I promise to work hard these next four years. With you helping me I am sure that we will accomplish much,” Villagomez said.

The CNMI benefitied so much from the continuous efforts Villagomez initiated as a volunteer in keeping and maintaining a beautiful enviroment.

Imagine what more he could do as mayor of Saipan.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Beach BBQ Tomorrow

You are invited to a Beach BBQ tomorrow afternoon. There will be candy for the kids and a special prize for the person with the best Halloween costume.

******
With only eight days left in the campaign, I have begun my final push to reach out to voters.

The Marianas Variety had another advertising supplement in their pages today. The article focused on my service to the community over the last several years and this ad was meant to highlight that. I will link to the article when it goes online.

This is a preview of the advertisement that will appear in Monday's papers. Carlos Camacho was the first governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. We took this photo at the Democratic fundraiser a few weeks ago. After we took this photo he whispered in my ear and said, "I want you to use this picture in the newspaper." Wish granted.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Jaime, Again

Jaime Vergara gave my campaign another nod in his recent Saipan Tribune editorial:
Being a skeptical democrat with a small “d” thinking that no substantial change can be brought about by the election process, which simply promotes representational (republican) democracy without mass participation of constituents beyond the election, the entry of social activist Democrat with a big “D” Angelo to be mayor of Saipan is a challenge to those of us ivory tower eggheads to declare our commitments, if not our loyalties, and join the fray, being clear that this is just the beginning and not by any means an end.
Thank you, Jaime.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Win a 4.5 lb box of Wonka Candy this Halloween!

The Committee to Elect Angelo O'Connor Villagomez is going to give one lucky winner a 4.5 lb box of Wonka Candy on Halloween. In order to win all you have to do is subscribe to the Angelo for Mayor email list. One lucky subscriber will be chosen at random to receive the candy.

Just follow these 5 simple steps in order to participate:

1. Before the stroke of midnight on Halloween, log onto www.AngeloVillagomez.com and enter your name and email address to subscribe to the Angelo for Mayor email list.
2. After you submit your contact information, open your email inbox and look for the confirmation email.
3. Open the confirmation email and click on the link confirming that you want to subscribe to the Angelo for Mayor email list.
4. Once you confirm your subscription you will receive a welcome email from the Committee to Elect Angelo Villagomez.
5. Reply to the welcome email with "Trick or Treat, Mayor Angelo!"

One lucky winner will be chosen at random to receive the candy. No purchase necessary. The contest is restricted to residents of Saipan.

Operation CNMI Homefront Support

Operation CNMI Homefront Support is asking the community to provide their coalition with the names and addresses of local men and women currently serving our armed forces who will be away from home for the holidays. Their goal is to send a care package to all local military personnel who will be away from the islands this holiday season.

"This program was really well received by our troops last year and we want to let them know that we appreciate them and miss them," said John Hirsh of American Red Cross, "especially during the holiday season."

This is the second consecutive year Operation CNMI Homefront Support has organized care packages for our men and women in uniform on active duty. Care packages from last year included locally printed t-shirts, newspapers, magazines, food, and letters from loved ones.

"What we really need right now is for local families to give us the names and addresses of their loved ones serving in the military," said Candice Dunston of the American Red Cross. "We need donations, of course, but our first priority is to identify the soldiers, sailors, pilots, and marines to receive a care package."

Rotary Club of Saipan Director of Community Service Angelo O'Connor Villagomez added, "we're looking to send a care package to every one of our hometown heroes who is off defending our country, whether they be in Iraq, Afghanistan, South Korea or the United States."

Operation CNMI Homefront Support is sponsored by the American Red Cross, Marianas Cable Vision, and Rotary Club of Saipan. Names and addresses can be forwarded to Candice Dunston at homefrontsupport@nmi.redcross.org. Contact the Red Cross Chapter for additional information 234-3459.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Glory Days

Monday afternoon I was scheduled to referee the first game of the Interscholastic Football League against Marianas High School and Saipan Southern High School. Unfortunately MHS didn't have enough players to field a team so they lost in a forfeit. Fortunately, however, we went ahead and played a game anyway with their coach, a few of the SSHS players, and me suiting up for MHS.

The thing that always amazes me about these young players is how surprisingly fast they are. 15 years and 50 lbs ago I was probably just like them, but now I'm forced to rely on good positioning and foot skill to compete with these guys (weighing 80 more lbs than some of the players has its advantages at times, too).

There was one particular play during Monday's game where I was dribbling the ball into a corner and being chased down by one of the SSHS players (one of my relatives, in fact) when the other player tripped and fell (I swear I didn't touch him!). In the Adult League that would have been it and I would have been home free. Not with these guys. He was back on his feet and on my tail before I took maybe even three steps.

It was great to be able to get away from the campaign trail for an hour and just so you know, I plan on continuing to referee soccer games should I become the next Mayor of Saipan.

The Things We Know

This is my second campaign commercial. It will play on KSPN 2 News for the next two weeks.
For a place as beautiful as Saipan, we need passionate leadership.

Who knows what we know?

We know that our community faces many challenges and without basic services, we all suffer.

We know that our island depends on welcomed guests enjoying our warmth and hospitality...

...who have good reason to tell others to come back.

We know that we need honest & open government that works for the people...

...and we know that we need the right people in order to do so, that's why I hope you'll join me. With what we know, we can continue together to make Saipan a better place to live and visit.

I'm Angelo O'Connor Villagomez and I am running for mayor of Saipan.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

They grow up so fast

This is the Sacred Fig (Ficus religiosa) I helped the Rotary Club of Saipan plant this past Earth Day. This species of Ficus tree is one of my favorite trees. It grows all over Southeast Asia and India, planted by buddhists who believe Buddha received enlightenment under a similar tree.

I've wanted to plant one of these on Saipan for quite some time. The only other specimens I know of in the CNMI grow at the Botanical Gardens in Papago and near the Seabees Monument on Tinian.

I found this tree "growing" at the Division of Parks & Recreation back in April when we did the Earth Day planting. It was obviously a cutting, probably from the tree at the Botanical Gardens. It wasn't very healthy and only had about 10 leaves on it.

I asked Tony Benavente, the Director of Parks & Rec, if I could have it and he said, "No problem." We planted it on Earth Day and about two weeks later it died. Or so I thought.

All the leaves died and I was able to break the stem off at the roots with the push of a finger, but the roots were still healthy and pretty soon small shoots started coming up from the base of the stem.

Six months later those shoots are 10 feet tall.

I've really taken care of this tree. When I first planted it I spent about $20 on wood chips to keep the base free of grass and thus safe from the bushcutter. I also visited it every day after going to the gym to water it. In July I spent another $20 on wood chips and by then we were getting plenty of rain, so there was no need for me to water it.

This is probably my favorite of the 3000 or so trees I've planted on Saipan in the last four years. I can't wait for it to get even bigger. I bet that when Earth Day rolls around in another 6 months it will be 20 feet high.

We actually planted three trees this past Earth Day. In addition to the Sacred Fig we planted two da'ok trees. One is dead and the other has serious bushcutter damage and probably won't survive.

The amount of damage bushcutters have done to the trees we've planted over the years continues to frustrate.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Democratic Party Family Picnic

The Democratic Party of the Northern Mariana Islands will be holding a Family Picnic on Sunday, October 25, 2009 at the public pavilion on Alageta Road in Kagman II. The event will run from 12:00 - 2:00 PM. The entire island community is invited to come and meet the Democratic Party candidates for the 2009 election.

There will be food, drinks, and entertainment available for all to enjoy. I hope you can make it to the event.

******
Our campaign strategy of asking our strongest supporters to write down the names of 20 Saipan voters and ask them personally to vote Angelo for Mayor is working.

Several times in the last few days voters have told me they heard from one of you and now plan on voting Angelo for Mayor. Thank you. Elections on Saipan are all about personal contacts and personal relationships. People trust you. Please continue to talk about my candidacy and my plans for this island. There are only two more weeks until we go to the polls.
Democratic Party Family Picnic

Family Feud, Campaign Style

You can't get involved in Commonwealth politics without having to choose between relatives. Take the Governor's race, for example. Do I vote for the candidate married to my Dad's first cousin, the candidate whose godfather was my grandfather, or the candidate supported by the majority of my first cousins? For Senate do I vote for my second cousin, my father's second cousin, my distant cousin, the candidate who has accepted me into their family and calls me brother, or do I just vote the party line?

The Mayor's race is no different. One of the candidates is my father's second cousin. I'll let you guess which one. With that said, please enjoy this series of letters that has appeared in the papers over the last three days.

First up is Frank Benavente, who wrote me a letter published in Wednesday's Saipan Tribune:
'Making it harder for us to live'

This is a response to the letter of Dianne Esplin about the candidate for mayor, Mr. Angelo Villagomez. Why should we vote for Angelo? What has he done, besides make it harder for us fisherman to make ends meet? He spearheaded this monument that we have now. The monument took away all the best fishing spots for us fishermen. What about our families? Are you or Angelo going to give us more money for our fish? Are you going to pay for our gas to go out further and fish? I bet you won't. Angelo does not care for us unfortunate folks that do not have the high-paying, behind-the-desk, and more educated jobs. He doesn't care about us who have to work hard at various jobs just to make ends meet. Angelo is the worst possible choice for mayor; there are others who are running that are smarter and more determined than he is. I urge the people of Saipan to vote for a better person. Angelo is not the right man for mayor! I myself have not chosen my vote for mayor, but Angelo won't get it!

Frank Benavente
As Terlaje, Saipan
This kind of letter is nothing new for me. I've had to put up with propaganda like this for almost two years now and I like to think that most people can see right through the rhetoric. Maug is not a popular fishing spot and Uncle Joe isn't going up there on Saturday afternoons to catch atulai for the novena. I wasn't going to even respond, but Alexander Villagomez went ahead and did it for me with this scathing letter that appeared in Thursday's Saipan Tribune:
Caught out in a lie

On Oct. 21, somebody with the last name of Benavente wrote a letter linking Angelo Villagomez to the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. Mr. Benavente claims the monument took away all the best fishing spots and that fishermen now have to go out farther to fish.

Does Mr. Benavente know how to read a map? The monument is 300 miles north of Saipan and I can tell you from stories my father told me that it takes 48 hours of non-stop travel to reach that part of the Marianas.

And fishermen have to go farther to catch fish now? What is farther away than the monument? The only thing north of Uracas is Japan. It isn't even legal for American fishing vessels to fish in Japan! The monument has affected not a single fisherman, especially since the regulations for the monument are two years away. You just got caught in a lie, Mr. Benavente.

But you know what? If Mr. Benavente were to travel to the monument, which I doubt he ever has, he'd be able to fish! The monument only bans commercial fishing! And although I do not know him, I do not believe Mr. Benavente owns a Taiwanese long liner, so were he to ever visit the monument he would be able to catch as many fish as he wanted.

On top of that, Angelo was the strongest proponent of providing for indigenous fishing rights in the monument proclamation. And you know what? President Bush included them! Indigenous fishing rights are now codified in federal law! That never existed for Chamorros or Refaluwasch before Angelo campaigned for them. Talk about defending the indigenous people! Is Mr. Benavente indigenous? Well, guess what? Angelo fought for your fishing rights!

Mr. Benavente then goes on to attack Angelo for being educated. I've known Angelo my entire life and you probably don't know that he worked minimum wage jobs to make it through college. He went to school full time, drove straight to work, and when he got home stayed up late, tired as he was, finishing his homework. I know this because I lived with him at the time. Has Mr. Benavente ever worked a minimum wage job in his life? Angelo has two degrees, is smart and a hard worker and could have a high paying job elsewhere, but he chose to come back to Saipan to work in the low paying non-profit sector. How can you possibly criticize him for that? When he plants trees in front of your children's school or organizes a cleanup in your village, how is that not caring about you?

I recommend Mr. Benavente spend some time reading the declaration for the monument. He would learn that it does not affect local fishermen, but it sure does improve tourism. He'd learn that it is 300 miles away, in a part of the Marianas he's never visited. He'd also learn that recreational, sustenance, subsistence, and indigenous fishing are all allowed in every single inch of the monument, and that his arguments are lies made to discredit someone who cares deeply for his people and who has put into action those things he said he would do.

Mr. Benavente is free to vote for his candidate of choice, but he should not spin outlandish tales of local fishermen having to fish in Japan to put food on their family's tables. Being the first campaign to sling mud reflects poorly on him and it reflects poorly on the candidate that shares his last name.

Alexander Villagomez
Fina Sisu, Saipan
Friday's paper had not one, but two, responses! The first is a response to Alexander's letter from Roman's daugher, Darrah Benavente:
No mud slinging necessary

On Wednesday evening I sat with my father reading the article by Frank Benavente. We commented on the article as well as the obvious last name. On Oct. 22, an Alexander Villagomez wrote in response to that letter. What caught my attention was Alexander's assumption that Frank was involved in my father's campaign.

There are many things I have heard about my father, some good and some bad. Those who know my father or have met him at one time or another have seen he has no qualms discussing his point of view or asking for yours. My father has been in the public eye for many years and with it came scrutiny; as a family we have accepted this and maintained a dignified silence. Yet, as Alexander has seen fit to clarify his point of view with a firsthand account and defend a mayoral candidate, I will do so accordingly.

My father has never engaged in mud slinging. He has run in three elections and regardless of the result never attempted to defame his running mates. He has never used petty tactics to undermine the campaign of another. He has not promised scores of jobs to people. It is also known that he has never conducted any fundraising activities to operate his campaign as he believes his role is not to take money from people but to work to help them keep it. What my father has done is run a clean election with respect for all this running mates; visited with people across the island to hear their concerns; offered alternatives that he sees are progressive; take advice and consider your point of view.

Thus far I have only once alluded to Alexander's or Frank's last names. As Alexander has demonstrated, here in the CNMI we are all judged by our last names. Yet it does not matter that Roman and Frank are Benaventes or that Angelo and Alexander are Villagomezs or Tenorio or Camacho or Flores (you get the idea). What does matter and what we should all ask ourselves is after the inauguration in January 2010, which candidate will not shut the door on you when you walk in unannounced to voice a concern? My father, Roman Cepeda Benavente, is a man who is an experienced public servant. My father is a man with family values and tradition, balanced with a keen eye for change. Now that, Alexander, you can believe came directly from the campaign. No mud slinging necessary.

Darrah Benavente-Tagabuel
Koblerville, Saipan
The second is a response to Frank's letter from my Mom:
Misinformed

This is in response to the letter to the editor written by Frank Benavente, in which he stated that Angelo Villagomez is responsible for making it harder for fishermen to find fish with which to support their family because he spearheaded the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument.

I feel confident that someone in the local community can address this issue better than I can, and make it clear why Mr. Benavente is misinformed on this matter. However, I would like to address the other issue that Mr. Benavente raised about Angelo not being in touch with the realities of making a living.

Angelo has worked to support himself since he was in high school. He had a part-time job after school in high school, and also worked while he put himself through college for both of his college degrees. How do I know this? Because I am his mom, and back then as a single mother, I couldn't do it all on my own, and Angelo always helped out.

There may be an incorrect image out there of Angelo as someone who has been given everything in this life, but that is not true. He has had to work very hard for what he has, and as a result I know that he appreciates how hard most of us have to work to make it in this world.

I know that there are other very smart and determined people running for mayor. I would urge the people of Saipan to vote for Angelo because he is an honest man, an educated man, someone who values hard work and most importantly, he is someone who is a creative problem solver. I do know that Angelo Villagomez will work very hard to be the best mayor of Saipan.

Donna OConnor Villagomez
Ford Winter Park, Florida
Ah, politics.

Russia and China Visa Wavers Granted for CNMI

From the Pacific News Center:
Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo today announced that the Secretary of U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Honorable Janet Napolitano, issued a statement that exercises her parole authority to admit citizens of Russia and China into the CNMI on a case by case basis until a final rule is issued by DHS.

The interim rule will take affect on November 28, 2009, and would allow citizens of Russia and China, if granted parole, to stay in the CNMI for up to 45 days.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Divers for Angelo

A trio of local divers found an ingenious location to hold a sign waving rally.

Speaking of diving, have you seen the new Angelo for Mayor commercial?

Let's keep it that way

Going to the dogs

There is a letter to the editor about my candidacy in today's Saipan Tribune. Dr. Dan Teich is a veterinarian and we met earlier this year when I was in Washington, DC to attend Barack Obama's inauguration. As you may have guessed, the letter deals with the dog issue.
Islandwide spay and neuter program

My name is Dan Teich and I am a veterinarian living and working in the Washington, D.C. area. I was formerly the Medical Director of the National Capital Area Spay and Neuter Center.

During a recent trip to Washington, D.C., I was contacted by Angelo Villagomez about the possibility of working with him if he is elected mayor of Saipan to conduct an islandwide spay and neuter program for the stray dogs living on your island.

In our correspondence he described the difficulties he and other PAWS members have had in trying to hold such a clinic over the years and how he thinks it will be easier to accomplish as a government official, as your mayor.

I do not live on Saipan, nor do I vote there and I would never intrude on your local elections. However, if Angelo is elected as your next mayor, I have committed to come out to Saipan and hold a spay and neuter clinic before his first term of office is over.

Dr. Dan Teich, DVM
Washington, D.C.

$10.20 on 10/20

Today is October 20, a day that has been significant for me since my return to Saipan four years ago.

On October 20, 2006, I helped organize Beautify CNMI's first island-wide cleanup. Our goal that day was to recruit 1020 volunteers to pick up litter, plant trees and paint over graffiti on a single day, October 20. We called it 1020 on 10/20.

Over 3000 people showed up at dozens of volunteer locations that day and we collected several tons of garbage, planted Flame trees and coconuts along our shore, painted bus stops, and generally made Saipan a nicer place to live.

Two years later, on October 20, 2008, I helped mobilize local residents to attend a public meeting sponsored by the White House to gather public testimony and comment on the then-proposed Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. We called this day 120 on 10/20, the goal being to bring 120 people to the public forum on October 20.

Nearly 300 people showed up that night and our overwhelming positive turnout was instrumental in the creation of what is now one of the world's largest marine protected areas, making our small Commonwealth an international leader in ocean conservation.

I say I helped with these events because I was simply a part of a larger movement. The time for these movements had arrived and I just happened to be there. In fact, chances are you participated in one or both of these events and your efforts have changed the Commonwealth for the better.

This October 20 I humbly ask you to participate in another movement: A movement to redefine the way we govern ourselves.

While it may be my name on the yard signs, I cannot become the next Mayor of Saipan alone. I need your continued support.

In order to help me pay for campaign expenses for the final 18 days of the race, I am calling October 20, 2009, $10.20 on 10/20.

I am asking for my supporters to donate $10.20 this October 20. You can donate using the link to Paypal in the right hand column or you can write a check out to "Committee to Elect Angelo Villagomez" and mail it to:

Angelo for Mayor
PMB 360 BOX 10001
Saipan, MP 96950

Thank you for your continued support.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Do you know 20 Saipan voters?

I had a talk last night with one of our public school teachers on how he can help me get elected. He told me that he was dying to have me win and would be willing to do anything to help. I told him the best thing he could do was to write down a list of 20 people that vote on Saipan and go through that list one by one asking them to vote Angelo for Mayor. This election is going to be close and every vote will count. If just 100 of my supporters do this and each convinces 20 people to vote for me, we will win this election. There are only 19 days left. All it takes is for you to contact one person each day for the next three weeks.

Telethon Volunteers Needed

The recent tsunami in Samoa has been devastating for the people living there. The CNMI community is trying to collect $50,000 to send to our island brothers and sisters in American Samoa and Western Samoa.

The main thrust of our fundraising is going to be done this weekend with a radio telethon. IT&E has generously donated 10 landlines and now we need volunteers to take phone calls from 6 AM - 6 PM. I am helping to schedule volunteers in one hour blocks and if you think you can help, please contact me ASAP at 285 6462 or angelovillagomez@gmail.com.

The Rotary Club of Saipan is a sponsor of the telethon and I'm expecting our members to participate, but we still need more help. If you cannot volunteer your time, please try to donate at least $1. $1 might not seem like a lot, but if every single person on this island donates just $1, we'll easily reach our goal of $50,000.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

2009 Election Debates

Gubernatorial Debate between Heinz Hofschneider and Benigno Fitial, sponsored by CREAM
Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The members of CREAM held a straw poll to determine their organization's top two candidates. Fitial and Hofschneider were the top two vote getters and were invited to the debate. The debate will be held at Fiesta Resort an Doors will close promptly at 6:30 PM. No political posters or pins, or Tshirts with slogans. The event is free, but on a first come, first served basis. Monetary donations will be accepted for RP typhoon victims at the door.

Senatorial Forum, sponsored by the Saipan Chamber of Commerce
Wednesday, October 21, 2009

All eight candidates for Senate have been invited to participate in this forum which will take place at Fiesta Resort (Hibiscus Hall) starting at 6:30 PM. Every candidate is expected to participate. Doors will close promptly at 6:30 PM. Tickets are $15 before the event and $20 at the door. For more information contact the Chamber of Commerce at 233-7150.

Gubernatorial Forum, sponsored by the Kagman Komunidat Association
Friday, October 23, 2009

All undecided voters are invited to attend and share their concerns at a forum with all four Gubernatorial candidates at the Kagman Community Center starting at 7 PM. For more information, contact Jesse Torres at kagmankomunidatassociation@gmail.com.

Gubernatorial Debate, sponsored by the Saipan Chamber of Commerce
Tuesday, October 27, 2009

All four gubernatorial candidates have been invite to a debate at Fiesta Resort (Hibiscus Hall) starting at 6:30 PM. Doors will close promptly at 6:30pm. Tickets are $15 before the event and $20 at the door. All four gubernatorial candidates are expected to participate. For more information contact the Chamber of Commerce at 233-7150.

Tip-o-the-hat to Tina Sablan for the info.

Kumoi on Youtube

Looking for online information about the candidates? Look no further than Youtube!

That's Kumoi campaigning in Upper Miha. The Covenant Party has a Youtube, too.

A Voter for Angelo

Dianne Esplin penned a letter that appears in today's Saipan Tribune.
As a registered voter in the CNMI, I take my responsibility to elect good leaders very seriously. This year, I've found two candidates who really stand out: Angelo O'Conner Villagomez for mayor of Saipan, and Christina Marie Tina Sablan for the Senate. Angelo Villagomez is a proven leader. We have seen him lead us to Beautify CNMI and to protect our priceless reef. He doesn't just talk the talk; he walks the walk. As mayor of Saipan, I do not doubt that he will achieve his goals: he will solve the feral dog problem, pave problem roads, and enforce the laws on dumping. This is a young man with energy, ability, and a passion for serving this community. What more could we ask for in a mayor?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

20 Days Until Election Day!

Marianas VarietyThere is a poll on the main page of the Marianas Variety website that asks the question, "Who should be the next Saipan mayor?"

This snapshot of the results was taken Sunday morning at about 9 AM. I appear to be leading.

Don't be misled however, these online polls are easy to cheat. For the last two weeks somebody has cheated the Vizu polls on my blog. In the span of about an hour, Don Flores, Heinz Hofsneider, and Tina Sablan received about 50 votes each. This has happened two weeks in a row. I knew something was up when last week's poll didn't have a single map pin for Don Flores even though he took 40% of the 150 or so votes (Donald's pins are supposed to be yellow. Mine are red).

In related news, I heard rumors of a telephone poll this weekend. I'm interested to see what the results of that are if the results are released.

So with 20 days to go this race is still too close to call. If you'd like to help me with a small donation, you can donate via PayPal.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

An Open Letter to Judge Govendo

Judge Govendo wrote a letter to the editor today that specifically asked me for a response. Here you go:
Dear Judge Govendo,

I expect this will be one of nine letters addressed to you in newspapers in the upcoming days.

Your recent letter to the editor raises some important concerns and it is not too late to have your suggestions integrated into the existing Laolao Bay Road Improvement Plan. There has been a plan to pave Laolao Road for several years now and it is only now moving forward because the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has made funding available.

Believe it or not, it is not the federal Department of Transportation paving the road, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA is involved because the diversity of corals and percentage of coral coverage in Laolao Bay has decreased significantly in recent decades. The scientists tell us it is because of sediment laden storm runoff from the coral road and recently burned private lands in the watershed smothering the reef.

The road is being paved to reduce the sediment from one of those sources, the coral graded roads. The plan also includes the installation of stream drainage improvements, which will further help reduce sedimentation, and barricading vehicular access to the beach, which will protect important turtle nesting habitat and endemic medicinal plants. The plan also improves on the dive site and pedestrian beach access.

This, however, does not address your concern of bad drivers, but I do not think it is too late to have your concerns heard.

There was a public meeting hosted by NOAA on this issue in Kagman on September 21 of this year and Kathleen Hermann explained in detail the plan. Phase I of the plan has not yet been implemented and I do not believe a contractor has been hired to redesign the plans drawn by Tim Lang of Coastal Resource Management Office in 2005 (the plans have to be redrawn to account for four years of further erosion). When those plans are redrawn, I hope that your concerns can be included.

I would recommend the construction of a separate bicycle lane, speed bumps, and a railing along the dangerous cliff.

Your letter raises a much larger issue, however, as Laolao Road is not the only road that is dangerous on Saipan. As a child I remember asking my stepmother why there were no sidewalks on Saipan and I distinctly remember being dissatisfied with her answer.

Years later I read a great book by James Howard Kunstler called Geography of Nowhere and found a much better answer: Before World War II, America (and Saipan) built villages and towns for people; After World War II, America (and Saipan) built villages and towns for cars.

You can see this by comparing the old villages of Chalan Kanoa, Garapan, Oleai, and Tanapag to the newer villages of Kagman, Dandan, and Koblerville.

The focus of those older villages is the church. The houses and businesses are built around the church. And everything from your school, to the corner shop, to your uncle’s house is within walking distance. The newer villages planned for no church. No school. No businesses. And to go anywhere you have to drive.

Several years ago I wrote a letter to the editor called “Imagine the New Garapan” where I describe how Traditional Neighborhood Development could be applied to our tourist district.

The Saipan of tomorrow could be a lot like the Saipan of old if we plan for it. Village planning can make our streets safer, especially if we plan them so that walking and biking is as convenient as driving.

I apologize for this short rendition of my vision of the New Saipan, but this is supposed to be just a simple letter to the editor. I hope I answered your questions and if you would like to discuss this or any other issues further, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Angelo O’Connor Villagomez
Democratic Nominee for Mayor of Saipan

Angels of the New World

Jaime Vergara penned an editorial on Columbus Day about Tina Sablan and me.
So what new world are we entering into these days? What historic crossings are being made? OK, first, the title of this article. Less I am accused of writing this as a veiled endorsement of the candidacy of Angelo Villagomez for Mayor of Saipan, my immediate response is an emphatic “No,” because it is hardly veiled at all! Angelo, of course, is singular; “angels” in the title is plural. Now, are we clear?

[snip]

I was teaching a three-week crash CNMI overview in my 6th Grade Social Studies Class a year or so ago, when the Marianas Marine Monument was being fiercely debated on island and beyond. Having previously extolled the virtues of Angelo's efforts with the Beautify CNMI folks, I took the opportunity to invite Angelo to speak to the class.

His first statement was an attention-getter: “I am not a government employee. Nor do I have any plans of becoming one.” That was dropped like dead weight without any further explanation, though it would be obvious to his captive audience who have imbibed deeply by then on the notion that to coast through the local economy with ease and comfort is to become a government functionary, and here came one of renown going against the grain! The then XO for the CNMI's effort to engage local support for the declaration of the Marine Monument up the northernmost islands being mulled by the Bush White House at the time, took his audio-visual tools and proceeded to regal his audience with his imaginative skills and succinct yet comprehensive grasp of the relevant subject.

This past Wednesday, our young ruffian (we mean this in its proper noun meaning, of course) donned a jacket and a tie to join island casuals before the Saipan Chamber of Commerce to share a few sound bites and quotable quotes on this current foray into elective office. Angelo sure has a knack for going against the grain even when the vilification of his threatened elders raises new heights. Beyond partisan politics and the entrapment of ego-satisfaction and personality cult, he appears to be wading into the arena of servant leadership role in public service.
Thank you, Jaime.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Advertising Supplement

I heard from many people that the Marianas Variety was impossible to find last Friday. Did someone go around and buy up all the copies, did the paper not print enough, or were people going out and purchasing them en masse? I don't know.

The articles from the Electing Leaders insert are now online.
Electing Leaders: Angelo O’Connor Villagomez For a cleaner, safer Saipan
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.

First priority

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.

Beautify CNMI

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 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.

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?

Love & Politics

Yesterday evening as the sun set over Paupau Beach, George and Carmen Hasselback became George and Carmen Hasselback.

Congrats to the newlyweds and I must add that I have to respect a man who is willing to throw convention to the wind and get married in flip flops.

Naturally every man on Saipan with a Filipina girlfriend is now under pressure to make their significant other, "next." Thanks a lot, George. I wish the two of you a long, happy life together.

Friends helped them celebrate long into the night, but Eden and I had to leave early to get to the NMI Democratic Party fundraiser at Fiesta Resort.

This photo has some of the island's first Democrats standing alongside this year's four candidates.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Planting Trees in Koblerville

Harrison Smith came to the Beautify CNMI meeting last September looking for a community service project and left with an idea to plant some Flame Trees in a public place.

With trees donated from Herminia and Ron Fusco, tools donated from Friends of the Mariana Islands, and donuts donated by his mom, Christina, Harrison led his boy scout troupe through the streets of Koblerville to plant 26 Flame Trees this morning.

Long time readers of this blog (both of you) might remember that we planted some Flame Trees here in Koblerville 2007. Most of those trees have survived, but a few died. Today we filled in the spaces where trees were missing and continued the line of trees in front of the school.

Only three of the ten or so trees we planted in front of the elementary school survived from 2007. Matt Smith called them "The Three Brothers." We gave The Three Brothers 18 little brothers and sisters this morning.

We also planted 8 trees in front of the community center and fire station along the main road.

It is unfortunate that some of the trees from 2007 died. The main culprit is the bushcutter. Workers cutting the grass damage the trees with their tools. Sometimes it just damages the trees, sometimes it stunts the growth, and sometimes it kills them.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Special Campaign Insert Tomorrow

There will be a special Mayoral insert in tomorrow's Marianas Variety that will include information, articles, photos, and advertisements from the nine candidates for Saipan Mayor. I purchased five advertisements for the insert, one full-color full-page ad and four black & white half-page ads. I think a number of voters will use this insert in selecting the candidate that earns their vote, so I wanted to make a good showing. The insert is also supposed to have an article about me, which I have not yet seen. I hope it is a good one.

The full page ad includes the text of my Chamber of Commerce speech. People want to know what I'll do as Mayor of Saipan? There you have it.

The four half-page ads include testimonials from some of my supporters. The lettering is hard to read in these small photos, so I've posted the testimonials following each ad. It will be easier to read in the large newspaper.

My name is Kelvin Rodeo, and I am an Aviation Support Equipment Technician, Airman in the United States Navy. I am currently stationed in Bremerton , WA on board the USS John C. Stennis, CVN-74. I support Angelo for Mayor because I know and truly believe that he will take care of our island until I am finished serving our country and it is time for me to return home to Saipan. When I was in high school at MHS, I saw all the work that Angelo was doing for our community, and I knew that he had a genuine interest in the betterment of the island and that he had a strong drive to actually do something about it.

I have been gone for almost two and a half years, but I have been keeping track of everything that he has done for our island. I have seen many recent pictures of various areas on the island, and Saipan really does look a lot cleaner than it did before I left. It can only continue to get cleaner with Angelo as our Mayor. This is why I know that Angelo Villagomez is the best choice for Mayor of Saipan. I believe in Angelo so much, that even with my inability to help out in person, I decided that I would still do what I could to help him out by making a donation to his campaign.

I truly believe that Angelo can and will continue to make Saipan a cleaner and safer place for us all, and that is why I am voting for him as Mayor of Saipan. He has proven to us all on multiple occasions that he will rise up to any challenge that is presented to him, so I ask you to please cast your vote for Angelo for a cleaner, safer Saipan.

ASAN Kelvin J. Rodeo
United States Navy
USS John C. Stennis CVN-74
Bremerton, WA

I am supporting Angelo Villagomez for Mayor of Saipan and I ask that you support him, too. I see the same work ethic and dedication to the people of our islands in Angelo as I remember in his father. It was Angelo’s father, Justice Ramon G. Villagomez, who brought me in as one of the first female members of the Rotary Club of Saipan and I can remember Angelo as a little boy. Things came full circle when I sponsored Angelo to become a member himself a few years back.

Please vote Angelo for Mayor in this year’s election. He brings new ideas and a new way of doing things. Our people need his energy and I know he is the mayor we need now.

Agnes McPhetres
Democrat
San Vicente

I am not old enough to vote in next month’s election, but I am asking those who can to vote Angelo O’Connor Villagomez for Mayor.

I watched Angelo’s speech to the Chamber of Commerce on Youtube, read about his plans on AngeloVillagomez.com, follow along with his campaign on Facebook and I think he is the best one to be our next mayor.

He reaches out to everyone living on this island, whether young or young at heart, indigenous or indigenous-minded, and reminds us that we can do better.

Think of us, the youth, when you vote for mayor this year. Please vote for Angelo.

Alyssa Sablan
Student
As Matuis

My name is Thelma Cabrera and I am an English teacher at Kagman High School. This is my first year teaching. I recently returned to Saipan after having gone to college and lived a number of years in Arizona.

So many of us go off to college and not enough of us return, but I always knew that I would someday return. And like most of us who spend time in the States, I would check in time to time via the newspaper websites.

That is where I first heard about all Angelo was doing for our islands. It seemed like every time I logged on there was a story about Angelo planting trees, leading a beach cleanup, or helping out our community in a number of other ways.

Now that I am back on Saipan I have seen first hand the affect Angelo has had on our island. I am not suggesting that he did it alone, but Angelo was surely a catalyst that has led to change.

I urge you to vote Angelo O’Connor Villagomez for Mayor in the upcoming election. He has done so much as a community activist. Imagine what he could do as our next Mayor.

Thelma Cabrera
Teacher
Gualo Rai

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Vote Online for Saipan Mayor

The Marianas Variety has an online poll asking, "Who should be the next Saipan Mayor?"

Please visit their main page and vote for Angelo Villagomez. The poll is on the bottom right hand side of the website.

In other news...

Both newspapers reported on yesterday's forum at the Chamber of Commerce. From the Saipan Tribune:
The nine candidates for Saipan mayor yesterday presented their individual platforms to members and guests of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, but some of them ran out of time to read their entire prepared speech and instead distributed campaign flyers and brochures instead.

The Chamber gave the candidates only four minutes each to present their platform.

Almost all of the candidates spoke of preserving the beauty of Saipan and in improving the lives of residents, while some offered unique ideas to be able to make a difference and try to win people's votes in the Nov. 7 elections.

Chamber vice president Doug Brennan presented the candidates as follows: Marian DLG. Tudela, Angelo O. Villagomez, Juan S. Demapan, Donald P. Flores, Antonio Camacho, Roman Benavente, Jose DLG. Sanchez, Lino Tenorio, and Candido Taman.

[snip]

Villagomez, who was the only candidate in coat and tie, stressed the importance of enhancing Saipan as a tourist destination and as a safe community through beautification projects, cleanups, dog control program and enforcement of the CNMI Litter Control Act, among other things.

He said one of his first tasks will be to conduct an audit to determine the effectiveness of the Saipan Mayor's Office.
And the Marianas Variety:
FOUR of the nine candidates in the Saipan mayoral race have vowed to do something about the island’s stray dog problem.

Angelo O. Villagomez, Antonio M. Camacho, Roman C. Benavente and Donald G. Flores told the Saipan Chamber of Commerce yesterday that the issue will be among their top priorities.

Villagomez, an environmentalist and animal welfare advocate, said his beautification program includes a solution to the problem of stray dogs.

Villagomez is the Democratic candidate.
The Marianas Variety also published a letter to the editor about my candidacy all the way from Laos.
I MET Angelo Villagomez a few years back. He was introduced to me by Ken Kramer as the consultant for Beautify CNMI! There wasn't anything interesting with him when I met him the first time. The next meeting was when he visited our office to introduce Beautify CNMI! My employer then, Bridge Capital LLC, was looking for a community project. Angelo is a good salesman. He knew what he was selling. His eyes showed his passion for what he was doing.

Few years later, I met Angelo in Rotary Club of Saipan. I don't know what happened between the time I met him in our office and the day I saw him again. All I knew was I wasn't comfortable with him. I would always try to avoid him if I could. Looking back, I think that the reason was that he is closely associated with Cinta Kaipat and being so, to me he was guilty by association.

One day, I was having a lunch with my friend and fellow advocate Thess Samson in Bobby's Cadillac. Lo and behold! Angelo was there. He was all smiles as he approached our table. I started to talk about my favorite subject which was the plight of the CNMI guest workers to sort of put a line. It was a line that I was hoping he wouldn't cross or else. On the contrary, Angelo surprised me with his views and opinions. I found him to be reasonable, idealistic, articulate and positive. He changed my opinion about him. I immediately became a great fan. I was so awed that I told him I don't mind having him as my son-in-law! Angelo and I would laugh about it. Of course, my daughter was way too young for him. I started to call him "my son-in-law."

Angelo, it was an honor to have served in the same Rotary Club with you. In some ways, you inspired me because you showed me that nothing is really impossible. All it takes is an unwavering commitment. You inspired me not to be afraid. For you, nothing is too big or too small. I was not surprised to know that you're running for a public office. I know it came from your sincere desire to serve the people. I know you can do it.

I wish that I was there to help in your campaign. You know that I would if I was there.

I pray that Saipan will give you a chance. They need someone who could offer a change. And change is you, my son-in-law, Angelo!

IRENE N. TANTIADO
Savannakhet, Laos
I have to admit that my heart nearly stopped beating as I read those first few paragraphs. Great finish though! Thank you, Irene.

Chamber Pics & Vid


This is the video of me giving my speech at the Chamber of Commerce today.

The full text of my Chamber of Commerce speech is posted in my previous post. I was not able to finish it during my 4 minute allotment of time, but I got through most of it and am happy with how it came off, even though I was nervous.

It was interesting watching the nine other candidates give their speeches. Now I know for sure that this is going to be a very close race. I'll need all the support I can muster.

This photo is mostly for the benefit of my brother, Alex, and my Mom. Edmund Villagomez is running for House of Representatives in Precinct 3 (my precinct) and he was (obviously) at today's forum. Edmund visited us in Florida when he was going through Disney's College Program. He had Thanksgiving at our house and shared more beers at TGI Fridays with Alex and me than I care to admit.

Chamber of Commerce Speech Text

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?

Destination Enhancement.

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.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Mayoral Candidate invites voters on a tropical island tour

Forbidden Island Marine Sanctuary: Forbidden Island is small islet off the eastern coast of Saipan. There is a steep trail leading down to the beach from the road which takes about 30 minutes to hike. It rates high on the difficultly scale. There is a swimming hole and several caves to explore along the beach as well as dozens of interesting tide pools.
An environmentalist running for Mayor of the island of Saipan in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is looking to voters on distant shores to help him get elected.

Angelo O’Connor Villagomez, best known as the Saipan Coordinator for the Pew Environment Group’s Global Ocean Legacy, a campaign that led to the creation of the 95,000 square mile Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, says that if elected he will support community programs that protect coral reefs surrounding the island of Saipan. In an effort to raise funds for his grassroots campaign, he is promising to take off-island voters* who donate $20 or more for a personal guided tour during their next visit to the popular tourist destination.

“My idea is that voters and environmentalists who want to protect coral reefs can do so by helping me get elected and then once I’m mayor, I’ll take them on a personal tour of one of our beautiful marine protected areas during their next visit,” explains Villagomez.

Villagomez said the personalized tour could include scuba diving at the Grotto, swimming at Bird Island, snorkeling at Managaha, or hiking at Forbidden Island. All are locally managed marine protected areas created in 2000.

Bird Island Marine Sanctuary: Bird Island is a small islet off the eastern shore of Saipan. Just a short 10 minute hike from the road, recreational activities include swimming and snorkeling.
Villagomez has made coral reef protection one of the central issues of his campaign.

“Our environment is our economy,” explains Villagomez. “Not only are we dependent on a clean, healthy environment for a robust tourism industry, but our people depend on the ocean to put food on the table for their families.”

Saipan Grotto: The Grotto is a sunken limestone cave with underwater tunnels that lead to the ocean, giving the water an unworldly blue hue. Sport Diver magazine named the Grotto the #2 cavern dive in the world.
“Angelo is a staunch environmental advocate with a proven track record for environmental stewardship,” says Rick MacPherson of the Coral Reef Alliance. “A vote for Angelo is a vote that will have a positive long-term environment impact on thousands of coral reef species--Ensuring healthy reefs that in turn sustain a thriving Saipan.”

Managaha Marine Conservation Area: Managaha is a small sand cay off the western shore of Saipan. The most popular tourist spot on Saipan, it offers some of the best snorkeling in the Pacific region.
The waters surrounding Saipan support over 1000 species of fish and nearly three times as many coral species as the Florida Keys.

For more on Angelo O’Connor Villagomez visit http://www.AngeloVillagomez.com.

Follow Angelo on Facebook.

Follow Angelo on Twitter.

Donate to the campaign via PayPal.


*Commonwealth law restricts campaign contributions to American citizens only. Donors do not need to be registered to vote in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and there is no contribution limit, although names of all donors donating over $500 have to be reported

Monday, October 05, 2009

We Want a Visitors Center!

I remember after the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument was declared on January 6 of this year expressing the sentiment to someone close to me that I was glad it was all over.

"Angelo, you don't know what you got yourself into. You've only just begun."

Or something to that effect.

The promises made by the W. White House were basically that the declaration would lead to a boat (jobs), a visitors center (infrastructure), and world-wide international attention (free exposure). So far only one of those promises has come to fruition, the free exposure.

Right after the monument was declared there was a flood of free exposure. Virtually every media outlet on the planet, whether TV, newspaper, magazine, radio, or internet, carried the story. The exposure continued with the NBC Nightly News story during Earth Week and will continue again with the upcoming stories in Mother Jones and Outside magazines.

Whether or not that exposure leads to increased visitor arrivals will depend on how well the Marianas Visitors Authority and the private business owners leverage that exposure. Are they marketing Saipan as the gateway to the Marianas Trench and the Monument? Are they selling our natural wonders as something that must be seen? Time will tell.

As for the visitors center and the boat, those issues are still being worked out.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has yet to finalize and announce the members of the monument Advisory Panel even though the declaration specifically stated that this was to be done by last April. This makes me wonder about the management plan being finished on time, too. The declaration gave the government two years. How far along are they?

To help this process along I recently traveled to Hawaii to testify at President Obama's Ocean Task Force public hearing.

The Ocean Task Force is headed by 24 officials from the Federal Government, including NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco and CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley. That's Dr. Lubchenco second from the left.

The public meeting in Hawaii was attended by over 300 people and there were satellite links to Saipan, Guam, Maui, the Big Island, and Washington, DC.

I traveled with Dennis Chan, the local essay contest winner who accompanied us on our trip to the monument last July. We both testified.

The point of our testimony was to ask for a visitors center and to share the Friends of the Marianas Trench Monument's Vision Statement from October 2008, which we did. We also shared some of our experiences from the expedition up north.

The crowd twice applauded me and several people came up to me afterwards to thank me for my testimony. At least I know they were listening.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Angelo for Mayor 5K Family Fun Walk & Run

It was raining when the alarm went off at 5 AM. I knew that was going to dampen the turnout of the Angelo for Mayor 5K Family Fun Walk & Run, but I rolled out of bed and prepared the materials for the mornings race nonetheless.

I love that feeling of lacing up the shoes for an early morning run. I loved it even more when I was 10 years younger and 50 lbs lighter, I have to admit.

Brad Ruszala did a great job as race director. He set the course, measured it, and basically did everything. Thank you, Brad.

Right before we started I gave an emotional, moving speech. Yeah, right. At 7 AM? I just thanked everyone for coming and for showing their support and asked them to help me become the next Mayor of Saipan.

Then we were off like a herd of turtles! Nobody was going for a personal best. In fact, I think more than half the people weren't even standing at the start line when the race started. It was a rainy morning, can you blame them?

Brenda Schultz and Kathy Pagapular reach the Turnaround for Change. The race started at 13 Fishermen Memorial, headed south and then turned around in front of where Flair Bar used to be.

There's my campaign manager, Thelma Cabrera, with the top three finishers. I was a close fourth.

And here Matt Smith celebrates after defeating his daughter Madison. Something tells me she wasn't trying very hard...

Thanks to everyone who came out in support. Regular 5Ks are definitely something my administration will support. I would like to create a series of perhaps 10 races where competitors would get points for each time they placed overall or in their age group, which would be tallied at the end of all the races to determine an overall winner. The series would be mostly 5Ks, but could also include a half marathan and a few 10Ks. Perhaps we could call it the Mayor's Grand Prix.

More photos of the race are posted on the Angelo for Mayor Facebook Fan Page.