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Guam's Democrats stand united

by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - With the blessing of past party chairpersons and several seasoned Democrats, the Democratic Party of Guam officially presented its slate of party officers and village representatives who prepare not only for its Saturday elections, but revitalizing the party altogether.

"Our party is once again alive, well, and united!" announced Jon Calvo.

And with that, a slate of new party officers and village representatives featuring a mix of young promising Democrats along with seasoned familiar faces committed their effort to revitalize the party. "I want our party to bridge any gaps or any bridges or factions or whatever it is, that's all in the past and we're not going to worry about that, it starts today," stated Speaker of the 32nd Guam Legislature, Judi Won Pat.

Set to lead the party are Senator Rory Respicio as chair, Dr. Nerissa Bretania Underwood as vice chair, John Paul Manuel as secretary and Coy Torres as treasurer- all are running unopposed this Saturday. Before they take the helm, veteran Democrats offered some words of wisdom including the last gubernatorial team to take Adelup - Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo and former governor Carl Gutierrez. Both stressed the need to get back to the grassroots when candidates used to knock door to door to campaign for votes.

"I was so disillusioned the last few years because we just didn't have any activity in our party," Boraallo noted. "And it's true the elders have to step aside, we have to be there able to advise you, as to how to go about it, but it's fun, the party work is fun." Gutierrez added, "You got to have your mind and your heart together to put all away the past hurts and lets pull ourselves together to know what we want for this island - and we have to be the ones to lead it forward."

Gutierrez, a former chairman was also joined by past chairpersons Joaquin Arriola, Pilar Lujan, Tony Charfaurous and Darryl Taggerty, who has served in the acting capacity since March.

Respicio, who has served in the Guam Legislature for over a decade, told supporters the party would be revitalized but would still continue to recognize those who paved the way before them. "So you have a lot of talent within the Democratic Party of Guam and we're going to commit ourselves to amassing all of this talent to make our island strong, build our party strong and there's symbolism in everything that we do," he said.

Unlike Respicio, Underwood, formerly the Department of Education superintendent, says this is the first time she would be involved with the party in a leadership position. She noted, "In reality, I just don't make any decisions quickly because it's tremendous responsibility. I don't want to just be a figurehead, I don't want to be a symbol of unity. I want to be an active participant in building up a party that I truly believe is a party for all people."

Underwood is married to former congressman and University of Guam president Dr. Robert Underwood. The party elections are set for November 9 from 10am to 8pm for party officers and over three dozen village district representatives. Any member of the Democratic Party of Guam who is a resident of Guam, 18 years or over and a United States citizen is entitled to vote. Same-day registration as a member of the Democratic Party is allowed on Election Day. 

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