Former Congressional candidate Fuala’au ‘Rosie’ Tago Lancaster intends to be a candidate again for American Samoa Delegate to the U.S. House in the November general election with the hope to unseat long-time incumbent Congressman Faleomavaega Eni. In a media statement, Lancaster provided details of her motivation to seek the Congressional seat— which has been held by Faleomavaega since 1989.
“After the devastation from the events on September 29, I reflected upon an event that occurred when I was a young girl in 1966,” which is when then U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson visited Tutuila and praised the Territory for the major progress that had been made in education, healthcare and economic growth, said Lancaster.
“The statement that struck me most was, ‘destiny is really what we make it’. My life experience in the Military, as a professional woman, as well as a wife and mother has proven this to be true,” she explained. “We cannot, however, just sit back and wait for our destiny to happen. We must be proactive, we must act and take action to manifest our destiny and ‘mo so tatou lumana’i manuia’ (a better future), not only for ourselves, but for American Samoa as a whole.”
“I declare today my intention to take action to manifest our destiny by running for the office of Congressional Delegate,” she said.
Lancaster, a retired Military Officer and a Veterans Affairs specialist, said she finds it unfortunate that the same issues that received so much praise from Johnson in 1966— education, healthcare and economic development— are the same issues that need dramatic improvement today, forty-four years later.
“I add Veterans Affairs, Youth Leadership and the resolution of Manu’a’s transportation and communications problems to my platform issues,” said Lancaster, a faculty member with the American Samoa Community College.
Asked how she plans to address the three issues - education, healthcare and economic development if elected, Lancaster first points out that these three issues have been on campaign platforms for the last several years, for a variety of offices and “progress seems to be slow or non-existent.”
“I believe it is very important to think strategically as to what moves will yield the greatest benefits for the Territory. The first strategic move would be to request being assigned to House Committees and subcommittees that address issues directly affecting American Samoa,” she explained.
“These would be the Energy and Commerce Committee with subcommittee addressing, health, trade, and commerce and the Education and Labor Committee with subcommittees addressing, education, health, and labor concerns,” she told Samoa News.
She stated that it is important to be part of the process in the next Congressional session, in honing and refining the healthcare bill. “The power of the non-voting Delegate is in the committee process, so making a move to these committees is, in my view, critical,” she said.
“Again, strategically, this requires developing a constructive working relationship with the local government and the Fono to ensure that the Federal funds received will have maximum impact for the people and are used as intended. Given my background in Human Resources, developing an on-island staff that is both communicative and receptive to constituents' needs is critical as well,” she noted.
Samoa News also asked Lancaster how she plans to address the three added issues to her platform and she explained:
She says Washington is highly dependent upon building relationships and building a strong relationship with the VA Secretary and staff would be a first priority.
“As a Veteran myself and a seasoned military personnel officer, I believe I have an ‘inside track’ to achieving what is needed and a lot more to best benefit military personnel, our Veterans and their families, especially in the area of on-island healthcare. The current Administration has already acted to improve Veterans benefits,” she said.
“Youth Leadership is about making sure Federal funds are made available to our local youth, to participate in off-island leadership camps,” said Lancaster. “There are also private companies and Federal agencies that I would use the power of the Congressional office to reach out to, in order to include American Samoa youth in the Leadership programs, as well as, internships and externships.”
“Included in this area is a concerted effort to develop fit and healthy young people that will grow into fit and healthy adults. This will include seeking funding for increased physical activity opportunities in the schools and also active living resources. A particular goal of mine is to seek Federal funding for a comprehensive sports and wellness center,” she points out.
“As for Manu’a, building a relationship with the[U.S.] Department of Transportation and the Army Corps of Engineers to draft a comprehensive plan to solve the transportation problems is a start,” she said. “Bringing in experts who can seek a resolution for the long term, not just a stop gap and then pursuing the funding for same is the most reasoned way to approach the problem from the start.”
“In addition, with input from the people of Manu’a, improving communications, again assessed and planned for by experts is important as well. I developed highly effective systems for major military installations that addressed thousands of troops and their families,” she said. “I see no reason why, with the proper expert personnel, planning, local input and Federal funding, that these issues cannot be effectively resolved. It is a matter of making it a priority.”
Lancaster also acknowledged the many years of service by Faleomavaega.
“This is not a campaign about assessing blame or taking action against anyone. This is a campaign about taking forward action that will benefit the people in order to secure our future. I invite you to join me,” she added.
Of the total 11,342 votes counted in the 2008 congressional race, Faleomavaega received 6,895 votes (60.8%), followed by Aumua Amata with 4,004 (35.3%) and Lancaster with 443 votes (3.9%).
Lancaster, a native of Nu’uuli, resides with her family in Leone. Her husband of many years, David Michael Lancaster, is Administrative Assistant at the LBJ Dental Clinic.
They have four children and six grandchildren.
The Army is very much the family business as “Rosie” served 23 years of active duty and for the past 13 years, has served at ASCC in the positions of Registrar, Veterans Affairs & Student Employment Coordinator and most recently, a member of the Faculty, according to her media statement.
Lancaster will announce later her official campaign kick off as well as a campaign office. For more information and updates for the congressional candidate check out: www.rosie4congress.com
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Congressional candidate, Rosie Lancaster, kicks off campaign
Congressional candidate Fuala'au Rosie Tago Lancaster says she offers "a new era" in Congress for American Samoa and is ready, willing, and able to serve the people.
Lancaster was speaking Thursday night at the L&L Hawaiian Barbecue Restaurant during the official kickoff of her campaign to unseat incumbent Faleomavaega Eni, who has held the seat for close to 20 years.
The site of the casual gathering, on land named Asofitu, was where the Army retiree spent her childhood.
Lancaster said in running for Congress, she is leading the way to "prioritize and reorganize" the office of Congressional delegate for the single purpose of "establishing the critical partnerships necessary to fully serve the needs of Tutuila and Manu'a."
She said this partnership involves congressional members of both parties, federal agencies relevant to the needs of American Samoa, ASG, the Fono, private sector and the people of American Samoa. By working together, she said we can accomplish great things for the territory as a whole.
Lancaster said since her return and over the past 10 years, she's observed a "growing tension" amongst our political leaders.
"Tautua mo Tagata Lautele (Service to the People) - supposedly, the reason why political leaders are elected in the first place seems to have been lost in the pursuit of power, personal agenda and control," said Lancaster, adding that this has left the people, including her, wondering "what about us?"
She said there are some specific problems faced by America Samoa and it's not possible for one elected official or one political office to be all things to all people or to fix everything that is broken.
"However, a team approach to identifying our problems in order to seek whatever federal assistance is available in resolving them is the foundation for my campaign partnership platform," she said.
Lancaster's "partnership platform" areas are education, health care initiative, economic growth, veterans affairs, youth leadership development and the development of Manu'a. She said the platform issues she chose are a result of her being here in American Samoa, living in the problems that exist, and not just observing them from afar.
For Manu'a, she said she has watched plan after plan fail to provide Manu'a residents with affordable transportation that residents desperately need in order to connect with goods and services on Tutuila.
"Why you may ask should the people trust me to accomplish what I propose," she asked, then answered: "Because it's my training and experience that I intend to utilize for the benefit of the people of American Samoa. As a military officer and a professional leader, I am trained to make decisions on a daily basis that impact people's lives.
Lancaster, a decorated military personnel officer with 23 years of active duty as a human resources specialist, says her military service has taught her that serving people requires partners that work together. She said her career has been centered on achieving successful results through proving principles of leadership, partnership and teamwork.
It was nearly 34 years ago that Lancaster made the decision to enter the U.S. Army. She said her father, the late Le'ele Iose Sifagaoali'i Maluia Tago asked her to return home and serve her family and people after her military service.
"In choosing to run, I am fulfilling my father's request," said Lancaster, said.
Besides her father, Lancaster also credits Sen. Tago Afeleti, whom she calls her father and the source of her "strength and support" for her bid for Congress. Another "pillar of strength" to her, said Lancaster is her mother, Fiapa'ipa'i Matapula Tapua'i Asiata Tago.
"I am ready willing and able to serve the people of American Samoa," she declared. "I offer a new era in Congress for American Samoa - high energy leadership along with a progressive disciplined approach to the office of the delegate. I invite you to partner with me in creating a higher quality of life for us here in American Samoa."
Reach the reporter at email@example.com.
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