Marianas Variety

Last updateFri, 22 Nov 2019 12am







    Thursday, November 21, 2019-5:23:04A.M.






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Babauta teams up with Sablan

FORMER Gov. Juan Nekai Babauta on Thursday announced his gubernatorial run as an independent candidate, with former Education Commissioner Rita Aldan Sablan as his running mate.

In a press conference at his residence in Gualo Rai, Babauta said he and Sablan believe that the time has come to direct the path of the commonwealth in the right direction.

Babauta, who was governor from Jan. 2002 to Jan. 2006, said he has discovered that he is a rebel by heart. “I don’t tolerate a society that curses people or a community that is mean — people who take advantage of others and take away their rights whether they are U.S. citizens or not. We don’t want to be part of the problem; we want to be part of the solution,” he said. Babauta lost his re-election bid in 2005, finishing third in a four-way race. In 2009, he sought the Republican Party’s gubernatorial nomination but lost to then-Representative Heinz S. Hofschneider in a primary. In 2010, he was the Republican candidate for the U.S. Congress in a four-way race won by the incumbent delegate, Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan. Babauta placed third. In 2014, Babauta ran for governor as an independent candidate, ending in third place in a four-way race. In the runoff election, he endorsed the Republican slate of Eloy S. Inos and Ralph DLG Torres who beat the Independent team of Hofschneider and his running-mate, then-Senator Ray N. Yumul.

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Former Gov. Juan N. Babauta and former Education Commissioner Rita A. Sablan are running as independent candidates for governor and lt. governor in the November elections. They made the announcement on Thursday at the former governor’s Gualo Rai residence.  Photo by Emmanuel T. Erediano

Sablan said she decided to join Babauta to show the people of the commonwealth that they do have a choice in November.

“We have lost hope and faith in our government and we now need to restore hope and faith — this government is for our people. We need to sustain the wonderful things that we have,  like our culture. So what do I and John bring to the table? Leadership and temperament,” she said.

“We have the kind of character and leadership that will benefit the people of the commonwealth. Those assets are for the people of the commonwealth. We are willing to serve our commonwealth.

“In November, you will be making a crucial decision. Where do you want us to be four years from now? What is there for our future generation? So yes we are running. Please join us in our journey as this will be an important journey. We need to come together.”

The Babauta-Sablan team is running against the Republican tandem of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and his running-mate, Senate President Arnold I. Palacios.

According to the Babauta-Sablan mission statement:

“The cumulative events of the last four years here in the CNMI are the driving force behind our decision to run for governor and lt. governor. Many in the CNMI saw and felt the events of the last four years with discomfort and distrust. To many in the CNMI, the last four years have once again cast a sinister view of government. It is not a government at its best. It has eroded the public confidence and cast a dark cloud over the integrity of many who are supposed to be in positions of trust. It is reminiscent of events that took place here in the CNMI not too long ago. Workers are being exploited, workers die at worksites without explanation and no one is being held responsible. Workers are being unjustly compensated and are being silenced by flying them out of the CNMI in the middle of the night. A large portion of the CNMI population is still at poverty level or below. It can be concluded that wealth is in the hands of the few. This is not the CNMI that we envisioned when we became U.S. citizens in 1986. Our kids and future generations will inevitably ask: Did you do something about it? We don’t want them to tell us that we were complicit and that we were silent and did not do anything. We want to do something about it and that is why we are running.”

Sablan, in an interview, said it’s about time the government prioritize the people.

Babauta said he could not think of a better team mate than Sablan, with whom he said he shares the same vision.

Sablan said she was also being considered by the Democratic Party to be its gubernatorial candidate, but she decided to team up with Babauta instead.

 Also on Thursday, the former governor announced that his slate will include former Labor Secretary Edith Deleon Guerrero, former Corrections Commissioner Lino Tenorio, Franklin Sablan and Shiela Babauta.

Tenorio and Franklin Sablan are seeking a House seat in Precinct 1 while Sheila Babauta will be a House candidate in Precinct 4.

Deleon Guerrero said she is still contemplating whether to run for the Senate or the House, but added that she intends to run for office.

She said there is “too much corruption in the present administration and there is lack of accountability.”