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Members of the ASCC Student Government Association organized a Congressional Forum in late October. (Photo: J. Kneubuhl)

Members of the ASCC Student Government Association organized a Congressional Forum in late October. (Photo: J. Kneubuhl)

ASCC-SGA Hosts Congressional Forum

October 27, 2014

By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer

Eight of the nine candidates in the running for the American Samoa’s congressional seat participated in a Congressional Forum organized by the Student Government Association (SGA) on Thursday, October 23rd, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in the College’s Gymnasium. With the candidates addressing questions from ASCC students, a lively exchange of ideas ensued between candidates Aumua Amata, Mapu Jamias, Mark Ude, Meleagi Suitonu-Chapman, Rosie Fualaau Tago Lancaster, Togiola Tulafono, Tua’au Kereti Matautia Jr., and Tuika Tuika.

The SGA is encouraged all students to attend the event and to actively participate in the political process that will strongly influence the future of the Territory. “The forum gives students an opportunity to see and hear what the candidates are really like, as opposed to what people tell us about them,” observed SGA Secretary Lottie Haleck. “It was a chance to question each candidate about their platforms and their plans for our future. Your vote is your voice in our government. It was important for ASCC students to attend so that they could make a truly informed decision on Election Day.”

SGA Sophomore Representative Ina Tupufia echoed the sentiment that young adults concerned about the future direction of their home should take advantage of their voting power. “This forum was important for the students of ASCC because we should care for the future of American Samoa,” she said. “It’s important that we students have a chance to hear first hand from candidates, because sometimes our parents or our family try to influence our decision as to who is truly qualified. If American Samoa is going to have a bright and prosperous future, we have to make our votes count.”

With so many vying this year to represent us in Congress, SGA Freshmen Representative Merry Seuseu encouraged her fellow students to take this opportunity to better understand the candidates. “The forum made students better informed and gave them the opportunity to decide for themselves which of those running have what it takes to qualify for the seat,” she said. “Voting is a sign that you believe in democracy and that you feel that is a worthwhile and important thing every time you vote.”

SGA Honorary Member Joseph Vitaliano also feels that when weighing choices, nothing can substitute for listening to the candidates interact with each other and address questions from the public. “Students should be fully aware of the background and eligibility of the candidates so they can choose for themselves who they feel would govern our Territory equally and fairly,” he said. “Also, if they had questions or doubts, the forum provided students with a chance to voice them.”

Detailed accounts of the individual candidates’ platforms and responses to the posed questions were reported in the local media.