GOVERNOR Arnold I. Palacios on Wednesday presented his latest cabinet appointees to the media.

The appointees include the following:

—Tracy B. Norita, acting Finance secretary.  A graduate of Washington State University with a bachelor's degree in business administration, major in management operations, she joined the CNMI government in 2014 as technical financial analyst of the Office of Management and Budget. She was a former Revenue and Taxation director. 

—Ray N. Yumul, acting Department of Public Works secretary. The president and general manager of YCO Corporation, he served four terms in the House of Representatives and is a former senator.

—Leila Staffler, acting CNMI Department of Labor secretary. As a former teacher and school administrator, she has worked to prepare the youth for the workforce. She has a bachelor of arts degree in liberal arts from Willamette University and a master of science in educational leadership and administration from Western Governors University. Staffler was a former member of the House of Representatives.

—Sylvan O. Igisomar, acting secretary of the Department of Lands and Natural Resources. A former director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife, he also served as program coordinator of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. He has a bachelor's degree in natural resource management from Colorado State University and a master's degree in public administration from Grand Canyon University.

—Joseph Rios Jr., acting Department of Commerce secretary. He served as Rule 9 attorney at the Olympia, Washington State prosecutor's office and Rule 12 attorney at 60+ Elderlaw Inc. in Lansing, Michigan. He is also an executive management and board member of J.J. Enterprise. He holds a law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan and a bachelor of business administration with emphasis on international business from the University of Hawaii at Manoa-Shidler School of Business.

—Anthony C. Torres, acting commissioner of the Department of Corrections. He served as a drug treatment specialist at Tucson Federal Correctional Institution, a medium-security facility designated as a “drop-out yard” that houses former gang members, cartel members, law enforcement officers and politicians. He began his career as an adult correctional officer for the Department of Public Safety at Halawa Prison in Honolulu, Hawaii.

These cabinet appointments require the Senate’s approval.

Other appointees

The governor also named other appointees who do not require Senate confirmation.

They are former Rep. Tina Sablan, new senior policy adviser; Delbert T. Pua, special assistant for youth affairs; Felix Nogis, special assistant for Carolinian affairs; Frances Sablan, special assistant for veterans affairs; Virginia Villagomez, special assistant for management and budget; Daniel Aquino, special assistant for the Bureau of Military Affairs; and Paul Tenorio, executive director of the Criminal Justice Planning Agency.

The governor said there are several cabinet positions that are still not filled, but the names "are pretty much finalized."

Some of them, he said, are off-island and he has decided to hold the announcement of their appointments until their return to the CNMI.

"These are the individuals chosen for respective departments and agencies. We [also] want to say that there were quite a few number of folks that submitted their interest, shown and expressed their interest and submitted their credentials to us," Palacios said.

He thanked them and the appointees for their willingness to serve in his administration.

"These are challenging times to say the least,” the governor said. “The issues that we are facing are not just fiscal issues, but labor, immigration, the economy.... I expect nothing just as the public expect nothing but hard work and dedication from our appointees," Palacios added.

He said he and Lt. Gov. David M. Apatang believe that individually, the appointees are more than qualified to take on their assigned tasks.

But, he said, "it really is going to be a collective effort to move the Commonwealth forward in addressing some of the issues [we’re facing] and I look forward to the Senate hearings on the appointments that require Senate confirmation."

For his part, Apatang said: "These are the people that will be running the show in this administration. All of them are part of the Rebuilding Trust team. That is what we are here for."

He also acknowledged the presence of House members during the press conference at the governor’s office, saying, "We also invited members of the Legislature to join us here this afternoon because we are all working together for our community and for the people of the Commonwealth."


A bachelor of arts in journalism graduate, he started his career as a police beat reporter. Loves to cook. Eats death threats for breakfast.

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