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Attorney general candidates debate before Guam Bar

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 by Krystal Paco

Guam - With less than two weeks until Super Tuesday, it's the first time the candidates for attorney general face off in a debate setting.    

Incumbent Leonardo Rapadas and retired superior court judge Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson get judged by a jury of their peers - the Guam Bar Association.

While gubernatorial candidates are infamous for bringing the heat to debates, the opposite could be said for candidates for attorney general.

Rapadas said, "Don't expect any fireworks. If you do expect fireworks, you're at the wrong forum."

In what was a very agreeable afternoon, Rapadas and Barrett-Anderson both stated the position of attorney general should remain an elected one.

They also agreed that inhouse counsel at Adelup is necessary, but does come with its share of conflicts.

Barrett-Anderson said, "I'd like to see us take the statute and somehow make sure that when that conflicts and that when the governor is on one side of a public interest issue and the attorney general is on another side, we need to have statutory authorization as to who represents the governor because I'll tell you its not going to be the attorney general anymore"

Rapadas said, "The governor should be able to but only on limited circumstances. We're talking about this conflict issue again. Sometimes when people talk about conflicts, they think its disagreements. That's not what we're talking about. We're talking about real conflicts of interest. And if there is a conflict of interest, then the attorney general's role within government in relationship with the executive and legislature is much different than the ordinary attorney client position."

And when it comes to the enforceability of the medicinal marijuana initiative also on the ballot this November both agreed there's plenty of work ahead to make it work.

Rapadas said, "We need to work with all the different agencies. The different agencies have admitted themselves that they're going to have a difficult time putting this and implementing this but we will work together with them."

Barrett-Anderson stated, "My concern is how the commission is going to develop the rules and regulations. Enforcement has to be a critical part of these rules and regulations."

And in closing, Barrett-Anderson says she's the "legal architect" who helped shape the AGO into what it is today.

"I'm an architect that's my passion. I love to build. DWI court. Juvenile Drug Court. Family Violence Court. New traffic court rules. ADR. And more recently the court interpreter registry program. I love to build. The Attorney General's Office you see today is actually the Attorney General's Office I actually built back then 20 years ago," she said.

While Barrett-Anderson has built the foundation, Rapadas says he wants to bring the office into the future.

"It's very simple for me. Its not only about who can do the job but who will fight for the office's independence. That is something I took on when I started in the office. We need to and continue to remain independent Its about who will take the office further into the future and not take steps backwards," said Rapadas,

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