Guam – A tone of unity and camaraderie filled the air as 15 newly elected senators took their oaths of office inside the Guam Congress Building at the outset of the 35th Guam Legislature this morning.
In her inaugural address, newly chosen Speaker Tina Muna Barnes reflected on her decades of public service and her desire to put well-learned lessons into practice.
“Legislating is not an individual sport,” Speaker Barnes said. “In this hall, on this floor, very little is. We all share the same island, and love the same home. We all want to see it better. That is where our work starts and where we must always return. Despite whatever label we wear on Election Day, our problems are not Democratic problems or Republican problems.”
Barnes was the only new senator nominated for Speaker. There was no roll call request, upon Supreme Court Chief Justice Katherine Maraman’s offer to entertain one. Barnes was voted Speaker unanimously by her newly sworn senatorial colleagues.
According to a news release, Speaker Barnes “will focus on ensuring Guam’s existing laws” on “medical marijuana, economic development, and tax enforcement on vacation rental units are enforced.” This, even though the legislature is a lawmaking, and neither a law enforcement nor an executive branch body.
The release goes on to state, “As Legislative Chair on the Guam Buildup, she will pursue a Team Guam approach that is responsible to the People of Guam and the defense of the nation.
“Speaker Muna Barnes highlighted the combined the expertise of the 15-member Legislature and called on its members to work together for the betterment of this Island.
“The veteran lawmaker reflected on her previous terms in the Legislature, where women — who make up the majority of the electorate — were only a minority in the body. She is honored to be apart of this incoming class. While she is glad to play a role in changing the statistic, she hopes that is the first of many historic advances that will come to fruition because this dynamic body.”
“Making history with a majority of women in the legislature, a female governor, a female chief justice, a female federal judge, a female president of the Mayors council of Guam, that in itself speaks volumes,” she said. “But for me, that is not enough. History is being made every day, let us work
together, continue to make history, take our island to heights that she has never been before.”