Agat readies itself for vice mayor election
Next weekend, the people of Agat will head to the polls with the hopes of electing a new vice mayor. Five candidates are running for position following the death of Agustin Quintanilla in April. This will mark the first special election for a vice mayoral position since legislation changed Guam's election laws.
For Derek Baza Hills, who once again is running for vice mayor under the Democratic ticket, Agat comes first. "The reason why I'm really running for Agat vice mayor is because Agat deserves to be ahead and as of right now we have a lot of issues really plaguing the village," he said.
Democratic candidate Jermaine Alerta says working side-by-side with Mayor Carol Tayama is critical to the job, saying, "I think at the position of being one of the leaders in the village, I think it allows me to make more decisions that I believe are beneficial for the village and the people."
Three individuals are running under the Republican ticket and were given an opportunity for an on-camera interview but either declined or were unavailable after weeks of requests. Emailed responses were instead provided to KUAM.
Rowen Ann Malaga has worked for the Agat Mayor's Office for the past 20 years and says she's running in order to help Mayor Tayama make daily operations run smoothly. Benny Salas works at Adelup's Constituents Affairs Office and says running will help fulfill a life goal to give back to his community. Kevin Susuico meanwhile has years of private sector experience and is running because he has "The want, the drive, the passion and feels the need to give back and serve (his) community."
All five candidates were asked how they would address major issues in the village. Malaga hopes to work with Mayor Tayama and the Mayors Council to alleviate problems like junk loose metals and white goods, and overgrown trees.
Hills says he hopes to address infrastructure repairs, improving scholastic sports and building a boardwalk in Agat. He added, "We want to make sure we look long-term and look at the bigger picture because we want to bring tourism down to Agat so we can give businesses a chance to survive, get ahead, not only be able to be successful but stay ahead. And so the issues like water lines, the roads, public safety and also having to address issues for our youth, young generations that do not have a chance to have tutoring programs."
Hills worked for both Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo and various senators, served in the Army for six years and most recently was a high school teacher. Susuico meanwhile suggests working with the Army Corps of Engineers, Guam Homeland Security and DPW on a solution for land erosion and flooding and creating a public/private partnership for simple improvements or donations for sport facility upgrades. Alerta meanwhile says the upkeep of village recreational facilities, introducing youth sports programs and an adult GED program are important but says the top priority has to be Agat's secondary roads.
"We just have roads that are in very bad shape and I think we need to work together with our local agencies, DPW most especially, to identify and kind of formulate a plan that addresses the need for these roads to be repaired and fixed up, because it's a very, it's just a hassle and burden for the residents to drive on these roads," he said.
Alerta has over a decade of experience working for both the Legislative and Executive Branches, including the Guam State Clearinghouse and currently is a committee director for Senator Michael San Nicolas. As for Benny Salas he says in addition to road and flooding issues, he wants to address the stray dog problem. Salas says he's already had discussions with Department of Agriculture and GAIN.
The special election is set for June 6 at Oceanview Middle School from 7am to 8pm.