Guam – Just a day after the elections, Democrat lawmakers sat down behind closed doors to discuss who would fill the leadership positions. The Democrats won 9 of the 15 seats and will continue to have the balance of power in the upcoming 31st Guam Legislature.
On the agenda when the 8 incumbent Senators and 1 freshman caucused was whether there will be a new a Speaker and Vice Speaker, or will Speaker Judi Won Pat and Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz continue in those positions.
During the primaries, Speaker Judy Won Pat was the top vote getter for the Democrats gaining over 4,000 votes. But during the general election, she slipped into 2nd place finishing just behind fellow Democrat Senator Tom Ada. That raises the question of whether there should be a leadership change because Ada got more votes than Won Pat.
Won Pat says, “I know a lot of people normally would think that the top vote getter would be the speaker, but it doesn’t really work that way all the time it just really depends on the character of who’s in the majority to make that determination.
Historically, it’s never been about the top vote getter, its always been the support of the majority. In the past Senator Mark Forbes was ranked 12th and Senator Tony Umpingco was ranked 5th in overall votes. But they were supported and voted as Speaker by their colleagues. Speaker Won Pat believes that she still has that support to remain as the speaker.
Won Pat says, “I’m very happy, that with my conversation with some of my colleagues, not all of them, but at least 5 out of the 9 and they are definitely showing me their support at keeping continuity with the leadership and even more importantly the committees.”
And Ada agrees saying that he does not feel a change of leadership is necessary, even though he was the top vote getter.
“ Those positions right now are already filled,” said Ada, “and I think the individuals, Vice Speaker BJ Cruz and Speaker Won Pat have been doing a good job. I feel that there shouldn’t be any reason to change them out unless they are willing to give up their seats to go pursue other things. I guess we will cross that bridge when we get to it. But right now, I don’t see any reason to unseat those individuals from those positions.”
According to Ada , “The duties of the Speaker and Vice Speaker are very demanding. He says he would prefer to focus on the issues that are vulnerable to the military buildup that has to do with transportation, utilities and public works. Ada currently chairs those committees.
Also discussed at the caucus were the 2 vacancies created by the departure of Senator Frank Aguon and the future of former Senator Matt Rector’s Labor Committee.
After Rector resigned in January, Senator Aldopho Palocios absorbed Rector’s Committee on Labor, Public Structure, Public Libraries and Technology.
Senator Frank Aguon Jr did not run for re-election to the legislature because he ran for the Lt. Governor’s position with former Governor Carl Gutierrez.
Aguon Chairs the Committee of Economic Development, Human Services and the Judiciary and that Committee will need a new Chairman come January.
Also since Matt Rector stepped down,