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AG candidates discuss issues at Rotary meeting

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 by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - They both made it through to the general election and today both Leonardo Rapadas and Elizabeth Barrett Anderson appeared together for the first time during an attorney general candidate forum with the Rotary Club. While they didn't go head-to-head per se, they were both able to layout their platform in the same room.

Former AG and retired Superior Court judge Anderson says she wants to make the position to be a "good, strong, solid office." She explained, "I have seen my successors both appointed attorney generals and elected AG's come into that office some with some very strong character and leadership and some without much of what you see in the office today was built 20 years ago when I was there."

Incumbent AG Rapadas, who actually started his law enforcement career as an assistant AG under Barrett Anderson's office, hopes to continue the work he's done over the past three and a half years. "At the Office of the Attorney General, we have done a lot we've taken drug dealers, robbers, rapists, home invaders and murderers off our streets we are keeping them locked up to 15, 20 years and even up to life," he said.

The first question before the candidates was what crime do they consider the most serious on Guam? Rapadas says its crimes against persons which range from child abuse to burglaries to family violence to homicide. "In every one of those cases, there's a victim or family member who has suffered a true loss a loss of their esteem, feeling of self worth, a violation of themselves as human beings but most serious of crimes homicides, a loss of life these cases have direct impacts on victims and their families," he said.

Barrett Anderson says that crimes of property have elevated to crimes against persons, but says the drug problem on Guam has become serious. "So if you ask me it's the drug problem on Guam, how do we attack it? We attack it with stronger working relationships, teams with the federal government, teams with the Guam Police Department and most of all, strong and effective prosecutorial practice" she shared.

But what did they think about the pending medicinal marijuana referendum and its effect on law enforcement? "There will I think be negative effects for law enforcements in the short run and I don't know how Guam is going to deal with the long term effects. GPD is going to have to have its officers trained as DRE - drug recognition experts, said Rapadas.

Barrett Anderson agreed saying Guam doesn't have any DREs despite all 50 states and the CNMI having at least one. Whether or not she wins, she wants to be on the measure's Advisory Council. "I want to be on that panel because I want to be able to encourage that we become a zero tolerant jurisdiction when it comes to DUID - Driving Under the Influence of Drugs," she said.

As for the office itself from reorganization and conflicts with the Executive Branch, Barrett Anderson says it is inherent that the governor and AG are going to conflict and her objective is to have clear legislation defining the two roles. Rapadas meanwhile says he firmly believes in an independent elected AG that can make decisions on all aspects of the government. 
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