Social workers hold candidates forum

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by Nick Delgado

Guam - The National Association of Social Workers' Guam Chapter and the University of Guam's Division of Social Work held a forum today for the six candidates running in this month's special election. Each candidate was given a shot to answer several issues the island is currently facing, from the same-sex civil union bill to the military buildup.

All six special election candidates took the hot seat before about a dozen individuals in the social workers field. That includes Tony Ada and William Sarmiento for the Republican Party of Guam, and Sarah Thomas Nededog, Arthur DeOro, Roque Aguon, and Martin Benavente for the Democrats. Each candidate was given about two minutes to respond, and one of the questions included whether they submitted comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Said Aguon, "No, I do not support the DEIS first report and no I will not support a second report, it's my position that the whole process is perfunctory and what we need to do is work on a more equitable relationship with the federal government to find the rules of engagement,' with Benavente adding, "What I said was stop the grandstanding and lets on with sitting down with those people. If those people who have land want to sell land and the military wants to buy it, then let them sit down and negotiate."

A question on Bill 185, the same-sex civil union bill, was also raised. Both Aguon and Sarmiento are undecided; Nededog and DeOro are in favor of it, and Ada and Benvente flat out said 'no'.

"I would vote no, not because I disagree with the ensuing rights of those that are affected by Bill 185, but because we don't have enough data that has been produced to gauge the financial impact," stated Ada.  Nededog said, "If I was to be elected and Bill 185 was to come before us right now today, I would vote for it, but I tell you what, right now if a month from now and the election is over and I was successful, I would not urge it to move forward."

Sarmiento meanwhile shared his disagreement with the high percentage in revenue that goes towards education, saying, "I support a different allocation and I want to lower the percentage especially to DOE. I think we are in DOE top-heavy and we need to restructure the entire Department of Education."

And DeOro stated that he is in favor of referendums as he feels the people have the right to decide on various issues we face.  "I want to work to hear what the silent majority has because I think that the silent majority, there is some apathy out there and what we can do is educate them on the issues and then they can voice their opinions through this referendum."

For residents interested in asking comments or questions to the candidates before the March 20 election, you can do so at the University of Guam's Lecture Hall in Mangilao on March 16th from 5:30 to 7.


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