Thursday, August 30, 2012

Delegate Debate



The delegate race has been unfolding in an interesting way in recent weeks.

For the first time ever Congresswoman Bordallo has a significant challenge for her re-election as Guam's non-voting delegate.

Frank Blas Jr. is challenging her on the Republican side, but their dialogue has been muted as Bordallo faces off two other challengers, one from within her own party and another an independent wild card. When the primary is over than the real race may be beginning. Delegates tend to have an incept date (Bladerunner reference) of 10 years, and so if Bordallo can survive this challenge, she'll have surpassed Won Pat, Blaz and Underwood in terms of longevity.

Karlo Dizon has shown himself to be very measured and intelligent in terms of addressing the issues, but to me he seems to suffer the populist, everyday appeal to changes someone from someone that a voter may find interesting, to someone they are excited to hand their vote to. In most circles you might refer to him as appearing to be too "wonky" or someone who focuses too much on the details of policies and the ideological artifacts that political communication is supposed to be about, and doesn't have much vibrancy in terms of the art of political communication that is what actually engages voters.

I don't think he's done enough this election to weaken the political legacy that is Madeleine Bordallo, but he'll definitely be poised well to try again at a future date.

Jonathan Diaz was the wild card in this race. He had the chance to make an intervention that was truly outside of the two party system, and in some ways he accomplished this. In the video from PNC embedded above he manifested this well, by stepping down from the stage to walk before the people in the crowd, standing at their level. It was an act that was meant to punctuate his statement that he is one of the crowd, one of the people, not one of the political class, the ones that people always complain about as ruining this island.

But this message hasn't been able to make much of a dent in the conversation as Diaz has been haunted ever since by his remarks that if Congresswoman refuses to debate him that she should undergo a psychiatric examination. Diaz proposed himself as a grassroots candidate, someone who is of the people, for the people, but his choice in rhetoric and his approach makes him seem very isolated and alone. Running as an independent candidate already makes it seem as if you are without friends, as you are counted outside the two-party framework, but given that immediate disadvantage, you have to work to build a coalition that will stand for you and represent you, so that people don't see you as a lone wolf, as someone that it is pointless to take a chance on.

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Students Grill Delegate Candidates
Jerrick Sablan
Guam PDN
August 30, 2012

Students from Simon Sanchez High School grilled the candidates running for Guam's delegate seats on issues that they felt were important at a candidate forum yesterday.

Among the issues was financial aid for college-going students and self-determination for the island.
An Advance Placement Government class taught by Andri Baynum hosted the candidate forum at the Yigo gym last night.

Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo, Democratic candidate Karlo Dizon, Republican candidate Sen. Frank Blas Jr., and Independent candidate Jonathan Diaz attended the event.

Baynum said the forum was an opportunity for the students to get involved in politics first-hand.
Baynum said it was a great opportunity to teach government since both the primary and general election during this first semester give the students a chance to participate in different parts of the election process.

"This forum is held in the spirit of education and understanding," Baynum said.

There was a significant crowd in the Yigo gym with each candidate having a set of bleachers with supporters wearing shirts or holding up signs showing their support.

Bordallo's supporters came out in red shirts. Blas gave out free fans to the crowd, which helped in the non-air-conditioned gym. Diaz had a sign that had a play on words saying "Buenas Diaz," with a sun in the background, when translated from Chamorro means "good morning." Dizon's supporters held up signs supporting their candidate.

The forum also attracted people from the community, including Yigo resident Gloria Subido and her daughter Danielle Subido, a freshman at the University of Guam. Both women said they were eager to learn more about the candidates.

Danielle Subido was interested in the candidates' stance on financial aid, self-determination, and what the candidates thought about the Jones Act -- which increases the cost of goods to Guam.
Each candidate had 5 minutes to introduce himself or herself to the audience.

Dizon, a graduate of Simon Sanchez High, told the crowd that he's proud to be a product of the Guam public school system and hopes to bring new leadership the delegate office.

Blas noted that his years of leadership in both the government and private business give him the background to provide the leadership and action needed to be an effective delegate.

Bordallo spoke up to say her years of experience -- not just in Washington, D.C., but also as a senator in the Guam Legislature, as a first lady and lieutenant governor -- will continue to help her push forward issues important to Guam.

Diaz told the audience that he was one of them. Stepping down from the stage he said what sets him apart from the other candidates is he doesn't need to stand on a pedestal or stage.

A member of the student panel asked how the candidates would help a senior seeking financial aid for college.

Dizon said he'd push for more funding from the federal government. Blas said he would make it a priority to help students get the money they need to further their education. Bordallo said her time in office has shown she supports Guam students and noted she has helped ensure student loan interest rates are low. Diaz said he'd push for a card that students would use at businesses where 10 percent of the purchase would go to a fund specifically for local student education.

The primary election is set for this Saturday at various polling sites throughout the island.



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