05th September, 2012
There are six candidates vying to be governor of American Samoa in the 06 November general election, according to a list released over the weekend. American Samoa voters have until Thursday to challenge the eligibility of any candidate.
Governor Togiola Tulafono is barred by law from seeking a third consecutive term.
Faoa Aitofele T.S. Sunia has been lieutenant governor since April 2003 and is the 69-year-old attorney son of a church minister. In past years, he served as the government’s treasurer and has been local Department of Education acting director since the fall of last year.
Salu Hunkin-Finau is hoping to be the first female governor. She is the younger sister of Eni Faleomavaega, the territory’s non-voting delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives. Hunkin-Finau former president of the American Samoa Community College. She has a doctorate in education from the University of Hawaii and graduated from Kahuku High School on Oahu’s North Shore. She is the second woman in the territory’s history to run for the governor’s seat. The last time a woman ran for governor of American Samoa was in 2000.
The other gubernatorial candidates are American Samoa Development Bank President Lolo Letalu Moliga, retired High Court Judge SaveLiuato A. Tuitele, businessman Timothy Jones and former territorial Attorney General Afoa L.S. Lutu.
Faleomavaega is running for re-election against four others, including three women. He’s hoping for a 13th consecutive two-year term.
In the territorial House of Representatives, there are 61 candidates vying for 20 seats. Only one of the 19 incumbents seeking re-election is running opposed.
While there are no political parties in local elections, some candidates register as Republicans or Democrats.
Except for the current lieutenant governor and a sitting senator, all American Samoa government employees who are running for governor and lieutenant governor must resign from their government jobs before the end of the week, said Attorney General Fepuleai A. Ripley.
The four-page opinion comes after concerns by Tuitele about government employees who have not resigned from their jobs in accordance with local law before the start of campaigning.
Ripley said the only exception to local statute that requires government employees to resign 60 days before the general election, are Suniaand Lemanu Peleti Mauga, a candidate for lieutenant governor.
Moliga resigned from his job and Tuitele retired early. Lieutenant governor candidates Taufete’e John Faumuiana and Le’i Sonny Thompson recently resigned from their cabinet directorship jobs, said Chief Election Officer Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono. It was not clear if lieutenant governor candidate Tuika Tuika resigned from his job at the Treasury Department.
All other candidates for governor and lieutenant governor work in the private sector.
Also on the ballot this year is a referendum seeking to amend the local constitution giving the veto override power to the Legislature instead of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior.