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Precinct 2 Republican hopefuls share vision for community

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PRECINCT 2 Republican candidates Daniel Aquino and John Paul Sablan were on KKMP radio Thursday morning to discuss their accomplishments as well as their plans for the community in light of the upcoming Nov. 3 midterm elections.

Aquino is the current executive director of the Northern Mariana Islands Museum of History & Culture.

Sablan currently serves as the House floor leader in the 21st Legislature and has held a seat in House since the 18th Legislature. In addition to being the chair of the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation, he serves on several House committees including Health and Welfare, Judiciary and Governmental Operations, and Ways and Means.

The candidates touched on pertinent issues in their precinct, including crime rate, village beautification, infrastructure, community health and wellness, and unemployment.

Aquino said that there are some areas in the community where crime rate has gone up, and others where it has gone down.

He shared that he and his wife have been victims of a burglary, and so he is adamant about the House of Representatives creating a ‘three-strikes legislation’ for repeat offenders, in collaboration with the Department of Public Safety commissioner as well as the Office of the Attorney General.

Priceless family heirlooms were stolen and his family did not feel safe anymore, constantly checking their locks, waking up every hour, checking outside surroundings, he said.

“After being burglarized, I don’t want that same thing to happen to someone else,” said Aquino.

 

House Floor Leader John Paul Sablan, left, and NMI Museum Director Daniel Aquino. Contributed photo

He said that he has visited the home of other burglary victims, highlighting that perpetrators “know the system well” and may be under the influence of drugs.

“If people are already beyond [help], and we’ve given them so many chances, then at some point, we also need to protect our community. We need to have a fair and balanced system that looks out for the interests and well-being of our citizens, and also evaluate whether this person is able to rehabilitate,” he said.

Regarding village beautification, Aquino said that he and Sablan have been going around the community, assessing what work needs to be done, such as putting up stop signs and providing lights for an indoor basketball court.

Sablan discussed legislative appropriations for infrastructure issues in Precinct 2 that need to be addressed, such as flooding on the roads, as well as construction of the beachside and recreational facilities.

“There’s still a lot of work ahead of us… We work hard to try to speed up the process” he said, noting that the road to executing projects is a long one.

He added, “I ask our dear people of Precinct 2 [for their] patience. We’re moving forward with all of the projects… The hardest thing is really finding the funds for it and having it enacted into law.”

The floor leader also noted a bill on lighted properties in the Third Senatorial District that became law, in which regulatory agencies reach out and notify landowners to clean, renovate, and maintain their abandoned properties.

He noted that these abandoned properties pose several issues to the community, pointing out that the grounds attract pests and sometimes serve as hiding places for criminals.

Regarding infrastructure, Aquino noted that the Saipan delegation has provided funding to the Office of the Mayor of Saipan for beautification projects  and road repair within villages, inclusive of Precinct 2.

He said that should he and Sablan both be elected into office, they will work together with property owners to address infrastructure and beautification issues.

“We want to make sure that our environment is also taken care of,” he said, adding that he and Sablan want to work with the Office of the Mayor and non-profit organizations on these infrastructure and village beautification projects.

Sablan said that infrastructure has always been a priority for him since he took office, mentioning that the House has worked closely with the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation to address sewer and power issues in villages, particularly the sewer issues in Precinct 2.

He reiterated that the challenge has been in finding funding sources for these projects.

A 2016 survey on household expenditure and income in the CNMI found that Precinct 2 has the lowest per capita and lowest family income, indicating that people in Precinct 2 need jobs or some economic development project.

To address this issue, Sablan cited the work that he has done to support low-income families in the precinct, such as working with the Northern Marianas Technical Institute to bring the programs and curriculums into the villages, and provide services to low-income students who may lack adequate resources, such as transportation to attend classes.

Aquino said that for reasons such as this, he and Sablan want to renovate  social halls to serve as a resource centers for their precinct, providing services such as professional development.

To be continued

 

 

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