Familiar faces returning to the Legislature (Part 1)

Chris Duenas and Joanne Brown

Some familiar faces will be returning to the Guam Legislature.

In a two-part series, we’ll hear what they say has changed and what they plan to bring to the table.

This year’s election saw four former senators get elected to Guam’s 36th Legislature.

The four senators-elect are Chris Duenas, Joanne Brown, Frank Blas Jr., and Tony Ada.

All four are Republicans.

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Two of them, Senators-elect Chris Duenas and Joanne Brown, spoke with Newstalk K57’s Patti Arroyo Thursday morning about what brought them back into politics after years of experience working in the private and public sectors and what they expect as they return to the legislature.

Duenas served in the 31st and 32nd legislatures.

Joanne Brown served for 12 years, starting in the 23rd legislature all the way through the 28th.

During her last term, she served as vice speaker.

Duenas says he wants to use his extensive experience both working in the public sector and as a private business owner to bridge the gap in perspectives.

He’s especially keen to improve the tourism and affordable housing situation on Guam.

Duenas says he’s willing to transcend party politics and work with anyone in the legislature who can bring positive change to the island.

He also says that in these unprecedented times, his experience as the director of the Department of Youth Affairs in the devastating aftermath Typhoon Pongsonga gives him a unique perspective.

“We barely had I think $300 million as an overall government of Guam budget in 2003. Imagine that. And so I’ve been here before. I’ve been at the Department of Youth Affairs..like my house right now..with a fan running after the storm and there’s no power, no air conditioning..just a small generator..rebuilding the government after a lot of disasters and really bad financial situations. So I think I have that experience. And then building the economy through the Camacho and Calvo administrations. And now I think I’ll have that perspective to bring balance to the legislature,” Duenas said.

Brown says that what brought her back to politics was what she called the abuse of authority and public resources.

She says she also doesn’t agree with the practice of extending the public health emergency and implementing restrictions without engagement and input from the public.

Brown says that even though the Democrats retained a slim majority, the fact that four prior Republican senators were elected to the 36th legislature means that the people don’t wholly support the actions of the current legislature.

She also says she and the other three returning senators have experience being part of a legislative minority.

“We are not going to be spending time looking around the room trying to figure out ‘How do we operate?’. We’re going to walk in hitting the ground. And that’s the message the people sent out very clearly in this election as we were running. And what their issues and concerns were. And certainly that’s something that we’re going to bring to the table. We’re vocal, we’re engaged, we’re experienced, and that’s what the Democratic majority’s going to be up against in this legislature. I don’t think they should be comfortable,” Brown said.