American Samoa race for Congress heats up
Four candidates now running for American Samoa congressional race, including former governor, Togiola Tulafono.
The American Samoa congressional race is heating up with four candidates officially confirming they will run for the territory's seat in the American legislature.
They hope to unseat the longtime incumbent, Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin, should he seek re-election in the November 4th polls.
Leilani Momoisea reports.
A former governor of American Samoa, Togiola Tulafono is the latest to throw his hat in the ring. He joins Tua'au Kereti Mata'utia Jr and Rosie Fuala'au Tago who have unsuccessfully contested the position before, and the newcomer and retired US government employee Meleagi Suitonu-Chapman. Two of the candidates were confirmed within 24 hours of each other. Our correspondent in American Samoa, Fili Sagapolutele, says it should be an interesting race with the former governor having the strongest chance of taking over from Faleomavaega.
FILI SAGAPOLUTELE: He still has a group of supporters that will stay with him as he goes through this race. As it picks up momentum, there's now talk of who the voters are going to support. As I understand it, Togiola and the incumbent are second cousins, so that might split the family vote."
Togiola Tulafono says he still wants to serve the public, and if successful, he will be proactive in the role. He says American Samoa is facing a difficult time transitioning into a global economy.
TOGIOLA TULAFONO: And yet we are still being bogged down with the inability to get national recognition in policies that should help American Samoa move forward in developing for itself, being self-sustaining and to help our local government steer the roles through possibly more self-governance.
Faleomavaega is yet to indicate if he will seek re-election and Togiola Tulafono wouldn't be drawn on what chance he felt he had against the congressman.
TOGIOLA TULAFONO:We follow the people's wish, it's not new to me, I put myself out there as part of the choices they make, and whatever they make, we follow the command of our people.
The newcomer Meleagi Suitonu-Chapman says she brings 20 years of experience working in federal government and says entering the congressional race has been a long term dream of hers. Mrs Suitonu-Chapman says she believes the congressperson's role in Washington DC is to convey the needs of American Samoa.
MELEAGI SUITONU-CHAPMAN: Which is why I believe in creating a better and closer relationship with the Governor, Lt. Governor, and the Fono. These are powerful men and women that will tell me what are the essential needs for our people that we can ask congress to help us with.
Our correspondent in Pago Pago says there are reports one more candidate may stand, but with Togiola Tulafono seen as such a strong candidate, that person may decide to pull out. Faleomavaega is expected to announce whether he will seek re-election within the next month.
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