Guam – The 2010 Campaign Debate season came to an end Thursday night during a tightly scripted, well organized “Great Debate” at the UOG Fieldhouse.
There were some memorable lines, but no surprises, in what was a relatively tame event when compared to the fireworks and venom of Wednesday night’s more unruly, but more memorable, GMA contest.
During their opening remarks, and throughout the debate, Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate former Governor Carl Gutierrez and his running mate Senator Frank Aguon Jr. took a less combative tone, speaking broadly about the issues and attempting steer the focus of the debate towards the future.
However, Republican Senator Eddie Calvo and his running mate Senator Ray Tenorio took a more aggressive tack and seemed to start every response with a reminder of Gutierrez’s past.
However for most of the night, the structure of the debate, drove the candidates to address the issues, rather than each other.
Calvo stirred-up some boos from the partisan crowd during his opening statement by accusing Gutierrez of being “willing to break the rules.” Calvo was referring to a flier distributed at the debate last night which implied that the Calvo-Tenorio team had plans to lay off GovGuam employees. Calvo called it “another ploy” and “a forgery of our platform.”
“If you really care about people,” asked Calvo, “why do you tear them down.”
In one of the few shots he got off, Gutierrez responded by starting his answer to the first question on education by saying “I’m not trying to hurt families, you choose the name Calvo SelectCare, not me. All I’m trying to do is stop you from hurting people’s families.”
“If education is indeed number one,” said Gutierrez, “and we say it is,” funds for DOE “will be released in a very timely manner because that is under the control of the Governor.” Adding, that it is important to “build smaller classrooms and make new schools green schools.”
Calvo, taking a more aggressive tact, responded by accusing Gutierrez of “transferring $2 million out of DOE because he needed it for his office.”And then saying “In our budgets it will be out first priority to have a liaison at Adelup working collaboratively with DOE and public and private schools.”
ON PRESERVING GUAM’S CULTURE:
Senator Calvo said “We will continue to spend more money on Chamorro education … support a Chamorro Charter School and complete the Chamorro Museum and Cultural Center and move forward on the Hagatna redevelopment plan.”
Gutierrez began by answering in Chamorro, and then in English said “Language is the umbilical cord of culture … what we need to understand is that losing your language is about losing your way of thinking, and we must never let happen.”
ON IMPROVING PUBLIC SAFETY AND IMPROVING LAW ENFORCEMENT:
“We want to make sure to pull together a joint force from the military,” said Gutierrez. “Pull them in and let them be part of the community policing.” And he spoke about the importance of street lighting. “How many people were killed by no street lights on the road? We need to light more streets and we need more police on the streets,” said Gutierrez.
Again, Calvo took a more aggressive tone, “There were record numbers of rapes and murders when my opponent was Governor,” said Calvo. “We need to use 21st century technology … neighborhood patrols … build more kobans and use resources from the Federal Government.”
ON LAND MANAGEMENT:
“You want a plan?” asked GOP Senator Ray Tenorio. “Pagat’s not for sale, we’ll start with that. We’re going to make it clear Pagat is not for sale.” And “the military must live within their footprint.”
Democrat Frank Aguon Jr. brought up the Chamorro Land Trust Commission and the importance of “getting those properties immediately surveyed.” And referring to the Tiyan access Road he said “In 2010 the FAA plans to close the road. We’re going to stand up to the Feds and and we’re going to say you need to keep that road open for the people of Guam.”
ON REDUCING CRIME:
Senator Aguon: “The first objective is to make sure we have good happy law enforcement and make sure they get that increment that is due to them by law.” And, ” I remember 20 years ago I could leave my door open. We need to bring back neighborhood patrols.”
Senator Tenorio: “Guam will be safe when your Lt. Governor was a cop and that is exactly what I was.” But again he turned to Gutierrez’s past saying “We had a crime epidemic … there were chandeliers in Agana Heights when it was dark everywhere else.” In a Calvo-Tenorio Administration he said “you’ll get a street light because you deserve one, not because you support Carl Gutierrez.”
ON THE ECONOMY:
Senator Calvo slipped in a reminder of the 15% unemployment during Gutierrez’s Governorship but then turned to his “classroom to careers” initiative which he said is “all about the government working with the private sector … and coming together and looking at job needs for the next 5, 10, 20 years … we can build the curriculum so that our young people can build a future,” he said.
“Don’t forget that the cornerstone of our economy is tourism,” said Gutierrez. “We need the visa waiver … the more we continue to bring in tourists it will guarantee our economy will be sustained.”
ON IMPROVING GUAM-FEDERAL RELATIONS:
“I can bring the most powerful man in the world,” said Gutierrez, reminding the audience of one of the highlights of his Governorship when he convinced then President Bill Clinton to stop on Guam. “Over the last several years we have been ignored,” said Gutierrez, “because there was not someone pounding doors” in Washington. “Carl Gutierrez will do that networking.”
“Yea, my opponents relationship with Washington was so great,” said Calvo,”that the Department of Defense decided to move all their students out” of Guam’s public schools and into DODEA schools. “Guam’s face in Washington?” asked Calvo, “We have Madeleine Bordallo and Madeleine Bordallo is my friend,” said Calvo, “Your no Madeleine Bordallo,” said Calvo to Gutierrez.
ON IMPROVING PUBLIC UTILITIES:
In yet another reference to Gutierrez’s past administration Calvo said “There have been a lot of improvements since the days when our children were drinking water that could kill them.”
Then getting in a dig of his own at Calvo’s time running Pepsi Guam, Gutierrez brought up the health issues raised over a drink distributed by Pepsi “Remember when Tropical run by Pepsi … you were bottling it and selling it to the people.”
ON SUPPORTING SMALL BUSINESSES:
Senator Tenorio said “In 2003 when I was first elected Senator, Frank Aguon followed the advice of his running mate and raised the GRT.” Calvo Tenorio will not raise taxes on you because we need small business to survive.”
“We recognize private business is the life blood of our economy,” and “we are going to insist that we provide tax exemptions so” small businesses “can participate in the military buildup.”
ON IMPROVING RELATIONS WITH THE JUDICIARY:
Senator Aguon began by remarking that “My running mate is well known at the courts … because all of his detractors have tried to take him down but he stands innocent … he stands running for Governor.” And then he went on to talk about the need to provide good recreational activities, safer streets and more law enforcement to stop crime before it happens and reduce the burden on the courts.
But Tenorio seized the opening by saying “I hear the number of people trying to take him down. You know Carl, victim just doesn’t suit you very well. The reason that so many people know him,” said Tenorio, “is the number of times he’s been indicted and the number of times his agency heads have been indicted,” remarks which brought on another round of boos.
In closing Gutierrez spoke about the importance of connecting with the people of Guam. “The people of Guam matter,” he said, and “they have been marginalized from people outside Guam … I hope that I am here to bring the people back in.”
Calvo closed by saying “I love you all … I know elections can get heated,” but adding “Who ever wins this election, come January 1st we all come together as a people. We will all come together. Guam is good. And the blue and the white, the red and the yellow will be one.”