Vince Borja is not the first newbie to announce plans for a senatorial run this November election. But he is certainly the most controversial.
Right out of the gate, Borja, an adjunct professor at the University of Guam, got into hot water for announcing his candidacy while still working at the university.
Last month, after careful deliberation with friends and family, Borja resigned from the university and formally announced that he is seeking a seat as a senator in the 36th Guam Legislature.
So why is he running for senator?
“Our people are tired and deserve better. I read and watch the news every day and I am very concerned about the downward spiral of Guam,” Borja said in an interview with PNC. “It’s not getting better for our people. I believe that our island community would like to see improvements in government competence, integrity, transparency, and the overall practices of our leaders. We need more fiscal efficiency when facing issues. We need more accountability with government spending. We need to prioritize the areas of concern.”
According to Borja, he comes from humble beginnings and learned very early on how to survive with the bare essentials. This, however, did not deter him from improving and educating himself.
Borja graduated from the GWHS Class of 2001 and holds a BA in Business from the University of Guam, a double Masters in Business from Grand Canyon University and is currently enrolled at Northcentral University working on a doctoral degree.
He attributes his drive to his years of service in the United States Army, with multiple deployments to the Middle East and Europe, and his work as a manager for an aerospace company and non-profit work with the veteran community. He was also an entrepreneur, leadership coach, and an educator in a higher learning institution.
“As an Army veteran, I was a firm believer that in anything I did, you have to be resourceful in meeting the needs of your employees and your organization. Organizations or governments don’t fail because they lack resources or money, they fail because they lack resourcefulness. During my career in the Army, there was no room for excuses. Once assigned a task or a mission, it had to be done. I believe I am a strong leader who can have difficult conversations with stakeholders. I believe I have lived a life of struggles and success to truly understand the needs of our people. I believe that we must work hard to reach our end goal. And for me, that end goal is working towards the crisis we face in fiscal responsibility, public safety, public health, and education,” Borja said.
Borja said he brings to the table a different background and perspective as well as new ideas and out-of-the-box thinking.
“We need to stop putting bandaids on our problems and work to implement long-term solutions. I consider myself a lifelong learner, and I want to work on improving the quality of life for our people. It requires us to dig deeper, and find innovative ways to make Guam ‘great again’. We have to change the status quo. It’s time to try new things, encourage innovation, foster cohesion within our government, and honor the cries for help from our community. The times have changed for our island and so we must also evolve. Our generations are changing and we can’t adapt and overcome if we have the same people with the same mindset election after election trying to do the same thing over and over again. It’s just not working anymore. Our people deserve it. 2020 is ours,” Borja said.
If elected into office, Borja said he plans to prioritize public safety and look into new technology to help improve the services of GovGuam. He said there are a lot of things in the government that are still being done manually but can be automated.
Borja also wants to initiate process improvements and efficiency within GovGuam and promote entrepreneurship to help boost the economy.
“I plan to reduce government spending in less crucial areas and allocate those funds to more crucial areas in our government. I understand that there will be different thoughts on what is crucial and what is not, but we are well aware that public safety, public health, and public education issues have been and will always need to be addressed immediately. Crime is still on the rise with public safety in need of dire improvements. Our public hospital needs help. Education continues to lack much-needed funding and resources to maintain and repair our facilities. I hope to work with our village mayors to create and establish more proactive community events and education as preventative measures of youth crimes. It is important to keep our island’s youth involved in the happenings of their village so that they can also learn to take more ownership and pride in the direction of our island,” Borja said.
He added that he’s going to run as a Republican because he believes individuals should take responsibility for their own circumstances.
“From my own personal experiences, I worked towards my well-being and I was responsible for myself and my family, therefore I know this is achievable for all. The government’s role is to develop and maintain a stable economy in order for our people to secure the benefits of society for themselves. However, our current leaders are making this nearly impossible. I also believe that businesses are more effective in helping those faced with a more challenging socio-economic status through charity than the government does through welfare programs and social assistance programs that often promote government dependency. We must help our people prosper,” Borja said.
Since the announcement of his candidacy, Borja has been meeting with various sectors of the community, including elected officials and stakeholders, to listen to what they have to say and take note of their suggestions in fixing problems.
“I’m starting to meet with the mayors, they know the youths in their villages. They know the problems. They know their stories. Our people want more. I have a team made up of individuals from different professional backgrounds who already have a common purpose and goal, trust in each other, communicate openly and effectively and display an appreciation of the diverse ideas coming from one another,” Borja said.
Finally, Borja said he will work beyond party lines to collaborate and develop long-term, sustainable solutions.
“That’s what our island needs. We need leaders that will hold our agency heads accountable. We need leaders in the legislature who the people can hold accountable. I cannot make any promises that change will happen overnight, but I can assure everyone that I won’t forget where I came from, I won’t forget the struggles I faced, I won’t forget the work I have put into everything I have accomplished thus far, and finally, I won’t forget the needs of our island and our people.”