Propst enters delegate race amid crisis he warned for years would befall the CNMI if corruption was not tamed

A Saipan teacher who – 10 years ago – became tired of complaining of the problems in government and was elected to the CNMI House of Representatives now wants to solve the CNMI’s problems at the national level. Edwin Propst, the popular Precinct 1 congressman who became the household name in the early fight against the corruption of the Torres administration and the casino, announced Tuesday night he is running to replace U.S. Delegate Gregorio “Kilili” Sablan in November.

The democrat was joined at his late parents’ home in Susupe by his family, Governor Arnold Palacios and several members of the legislature and the cabinet, along with Mr. Propst’s long-time friends and supporters.

Mr. Propst and his wife, the former Daisy Manglona of Rota and Saipan, live in Dandan with their four children in a modest home from where he often live streams spontaneous and unscripted monologues detesting corruption, waste, and dishonesty in public service. Those Facebook live episodes angered the political power base that controlled the government for decades. Elected to the House in 2015, his colleagues increasingly marginalized him for questioning government contracts, suspicions of kickbacks, and the exclusive casino license.

Following the 2019 federal raids of the former governor’s home and office, the casino, and the law offices of the Ralph Torres’ brothers, Mr. Propst kicked up his public pressure of the Torres regime and the republicans in power in the legislature. He was the first among elected officials to call for Mr. Torres’ resignation or removal from office and repeatedly beat the drum on corruption in the last administration.

The regime retaliated, and in the lead up to the election of 2020, Mr. Torres’ cronies orchestrated a campaign against him based on third-party sexual assault allegations later determined by the Office of the Attorney General to be unsubstantiated. The congressman, who was then one of only three minority members out of 20 in the House, pulled out of the race for reelection that year. He was so popular, however, voters elected him anyway, along with a new majority in the House.

The Senate, however, remained in  republican control, deadlocking the House’s dogged efforts to hold the incumbent governor at the time accountable. House measures to take away Mr. Torres’ unilateral control over hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds, and to require financial reporting from his finance secretary died in the Senate. The House impeachment of Mr. Torres in early 2022 – a political milestone in which Mr. Propst was one of the lead advocates – also was killed by Senate republicans.

The unabashed cronyism, documented in thousands of pages of in-your-face evidence, together with increasing reports of Mr. Torres’ spending spree of federal discretionary funds throughout 2022 thickened the opposition’s resolve, and in 2022 voters made a wholesale change in the leadership of the government.

In January of 2023, Mr. Propst was elected Floor Leader of the House in a series of inaugurations that saw his good friend, Mr. Palacios, sworn into the governor’s seat, and a bicameral democrat-independent coalition majority controlling the legislature.

Unfortunately, the new leadership walked into a government in massive debt with an economy that no longer had the benefit of federal pandemic funds aid. Mr. Torres not only spent all the money, but according to the new secretary of finance, he left more than $70 million in unfunded federal funds obligations. The past year in office for the new leadership has been a domino tumble of bad news for government employees enduring austerity measures, businesses short on tourist and local customers, and a post-pandemic, post-Torres CNMI that just can’t seem to catch a break.

Amid the daily pressure for relief coming from all corners has been the sobering reality of a government that cannot survive financially without raising revenue or significantly cutting costs beyond what it already is doing. That has placed Mr. Propst and the other members of the new majority in the precarious political position of having to consider tax increases.

Will voters in November remember that the current economic doldrums and financial crisis were created by Ralph Torres and the republicans and the very policies Propst literally screamed against for years? Or will they be unforgiving, expecting that Mr. Propst and, by extension, Mr. Palacios should have solved the problems Torres created by November this year?

For Mr. Propst’s rumored opponents – Kimberlyn King-Hinds and John “Bolis” Gonzales – they would be foolish not to capitalize on the latter proposition in order to contrast the popular Propst from whatever agenda they may promise voters that has for the CNMI what appears to be missing from the current leadership’s messaging: a rainbow with a pot of gold that will appear after the storm.

Ed Propst’s past political prowess, however, has been his ‘I’m one of you’ populist appeal, at least to Precinct 1 voters, who have responded to his charm each election by making him the top vote getter.

During the pandemic, and while scores of Torres cronies were being granted millions in federal pandemic and local funds, Mr. Propst took a part time job as a car salesman. He would get off work from the legislature to get to his part time job, then go home and go live about the struggles of an honest living against the rising prices. It was a story that sharply contrasted the glitz and excess of the republicans in power, who posted incessantly on their Facebook pages about their nights out, new cars, exotic vacations, home renovations, and luxuries most Commonwealth citizens can only dream of affording.

According to his resume, which he sent to Kandit at our request, Mr. Propst has held several jobs in the private sector, and also is a small business owner (he owns a photography and editing service). After graduating from high school and spending a year at Northern Marianas College, he worked for Continental Micronesia in Saipan as a reservations and sales agent for four years. He moved to Hawaii in 1996 and by 1999 earned his Bachelor of Arts in Communication degree from the University of Hawaii, Manoa.

He moved back to Saipan immediately and became an English teacher at Marianas High School before working at NMC in a couple of leadership positions. In 2009 he went back to the Public School System, where he managed the Head Start Program until 2014, when he ran for his first seat in the House.

The election for delegate and all other races in the CNMI will take place on Tuesday, November 5, 2024.


  • Joe Must Go

      02/09/2024 at 12:16 AM

    Is Kandit News going to give equal and fair & balanced coverage to all the other candidates? I certainly hope so. One thing I will say, (my personal opinion) is that if the CNMI wants to see substantial improvements made via. it’s relationship with Washington, the voters need to be very careful who they elect as Delegate this time around. I cannot emphasize it enough that a majority of the disparity in funding that goes to the CNMI (beside the size of the population, which is how most money is appropriated to the territories) is that there are other deficiencies that could be legally challenged to improve things. That is why I have repeatedly posted comments elsewhere that the next CNMI delegate should have a legal background. And no, I am not in anyway affiliated with KKH, nor have I ever met her, spoken to her or even care about her. My only interest is that I personally would like to see is the Commonwealth better itself (it’s in everyones interest, both in the CNMI and in probably in Washington that a qualified “educated” candidate is elected). If any of the allegations being made by others against Propst are true, or if his alleged behavior on Facebook or on other media sources is true, then I would have to ask why people would even consider his eligibility to represent the CNMI? Especially on the emotional temperament level? Not to mention his lack of any critical in depth experience or knowledge (in my opinion) that will be necesssary to communicate the issues in Washington? Yes, Propst is good at finger pointing and shining light on corruption, that I will give him. And having said that, I believe the people of the CNMI would be better served by electing him for a local political position (maybe even Governor). The CNMI is in dire straits, and in my opinion, this is not the time to elect a delegate via. a popularity contest which has been the status quo in the CNMI every election? Just look at the island and the unresolved issues and ask yourself how that is working out for you so far? (especially with CHCC).

    Don’t be influenced or swayed to vote for someone just because you want to be socially accepted by others (peer pressure). Think for yourself, vote wisely, use critical thinking skills and keep the “emotions” out of it. There is too much at stake in the CNMI, more than they are revealing to the public.

    Good luck to all.

    • Your suggestion to have KKH as our representatives because she’s a lawyer is just plain ridiculous for me. Guam was in the Capitol for years, way before CNMI and none of their delegates I believe was an attorney. And besides, KKH has a bad review and practically bankrupt CPA as the chairwoman. I just don’t understand how and where the director of FAA came out with the idea to honor KKH for her role as chair of the CPA. If you’re banking on attorneys, there’s Juan Lizama who happens to be a judge…whether good or bad is irrelevant for the position. And as for Probst behavior at one time, we are only humans and have feelings too. Question is, after that frustration, did he go on a rampage. Of course, not. I’m voting for Probst because he’s like most of us, a regular joe that knows and feels our suffering. And I agree with you that we should elect him as our governor at some point in time. I urge you to reconsider. Don’t forget no one is perfect and we all make mistake in our life. Even KKH must move on, but she needs to prove her worthiness before she can represent the people. Don’t you agree?

      • Joe Must Go

          02/10/2024 at 11:00 PM

        You are entitled to your opinion, but correct me if I’m not mistaken, Kilili was the FIRST official Delegate in Washington D.C. – and how many years has he been there? I would say it’s hard for voters to question performance or know what good performance is when most in the CNMI are not aware of what should of, could of, would have been done? There is a reason why, in the past, many media commenters have used the phrase “asleep at the wheel”?

        Secondly, I’m am not familiar with any details about what transpired at the CPA, but I will tell you this – it’s my impression that “managing” anything “properly” in the CNMI is an uphill battle due to the nature of the island (i.e., nepotism, corruption, indifference, or whatever else is going on, etc.,). By the way, I have seen personally witnessed (over many years) individuals mismatched to a position, struggle or underperform, yet when moved to where their background would be better utilized and in a “better environment” with the “proper resources” – they excel. Delegates in Washington have access and are provided to a plethora of “assistance” and “information”, and they must use it to be effective in their position (hint hint?)

        Third, whoever is elected Delegate will be free and clear of the CNMI “local hinderances and detrimental “game playing” once in Washington, so any criticism about past perfomance in the CNMI is a moot point (my opinion).

        Which brings me to my fourth point (my opinion only), whoever goes to Washington will be mostly free from “local” eyes and scrutiny. That’s why I think it’s better to keep “certain individuals” in the CNMI (my opinion). Make of that what you will. You don’t need someone in Washington who under pressure, is going to “melt down”?

        Lastly – please take into consideration the trends in Washington, and I would suggest take into consideration that Puerto Rico, USVI, Am. Samoa all have women as Delegates (and please look up their biographies on the website for their education level and experience?). And now you have Ginger Cruz in Guam entering the picture? Take a look at her background too, please? If all the above were to get elected and or re-elected, you would have a powerful group of women in unison for the territories that I am positive would work together and would be a historical first (adding stature to their influence).

        By the way, for Kandit. Please take a look at the quartely filings for “House Disbursements”? Just do a simple google search for “statement of disbursements” If you manage to land on the proper page, download the third volume titled: Part 3 of 3 – (4.3MB pdf.) – Pages 1124 – 2247 “Official Expenses of Members”

        Once downloaded and opened, you can use your BROWSER “find in page” or “find” search function to take you directly to the Guam Delegate (and please look at the CNMI Delegates expenditures). Just use your find in page search function using teh Delegates name. It will open your eyes. Plenty of material for you to digest and ask questions about? Hopefully you are “neutral enough” and “fair and balanced” enough to question something no matter what politcial affiliation? You can also look at past expenditures (they are filed quarterly).

    • Your suggestion to have KKH as our representatives because she’s a lawyer is just plain ridiculous for me. Guam was in the Capitol for years, way before CNMI became a part to it and none of their delegates, I believe was an attorney. And besides, KKH has a bad review and practically bankrupt CPA as their chairwoman. I just don’t know how and where the director of FAA came out to with the idea to put out a good word for KKH. If you’re banking for attorneys, there’s Juan Lizama who was a judge. And as for Probst behavior at one time, we must accept the fact that we are all human and make mistake. Question is, after that frustration, did he go on a rampage. Of course, not. I’m voting for Probst because he’s like most of us, regular Joes that knows and feels our suffering. And I agree that we should elect him as our governor at some point in time. But in the meantime, let’s join hands and send him to the capitol. Don’t forget no one is perfect and we all make mistake at some point in our life. Even KKH must move on, but she needs to prove her worthiness before she can represent the people. Don’t you agree?

      • Joe Must Go

          02/10/2024 at 11:14 PM

        Washington D.C has more than enough finger pointers, light shiners, and “talkers” that accuse others of wrongdoing to make it look like they are accomplishing something. The CNMI needs someone with better skill, knowledge and abilities, not to mention the ability to communicate “properly”? (make of that what you will). And like I said, in my other reply to your duplicate comment, just look at the other Delegate backgrounds, and then compare them to the CNMI candidates? Just my opinion. voters need to use some critical thinking skills to vote this time around instead of emotions, familia, peer pressure, or who yells “Biba” the loudest, etc. (there is too much at stake this time). When will people learn? (smh). Just my opinion, vote for whoever you think is best for you, but just don’t come around later “crying” that the federal government isn’t doing enough? (CHCC is a perfect example).

    • Russ Mason

        02/10/2024 at 1:52 PM

      It’s well established that individuals are capable of change, often for the better. The Ed Probst of today has mellowed and has become more thoughtful than when he first began in the House. As a consequence, he has borne his responsibility quite well.

      Whether he is the best candidate for Delegate is a valid question. I am unfamiliar with the others. However, I am thankful that Angel Demapan isn’t in the race.

      Frankly, Ed Propst will probably win. He won’t have the poise and tact of Kilili, but he is passionate (which might be futher tempered).

      Ed’s holding three Jacks at the moment, which is a decent opening hand.

      • Joe Must Go

          02/10/2024 at 11:26 PM

        Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but from my observations this is once again “election” by the name game, and not by “who is best suited to represent the CNMI in Washington D.C.? But whatever, it’s up to the CNMI voters, I just hope they take a close look at their island and ask themselves, how has that “name game, familia connection game, and being promised the “moon game” worked out for them so far?

        Just my opinion and my speculation, (observing from afar) – but I would venture a guess that there is a certain person (I will not name) who is the real person who was always pulling Propst’s strings for this “persons” own designs and future plans. I’m guessing this “person” want’s to ride along on Propst to Washington which was this “persons” plan all along. Make of that what you will.

        • In reflection on those two unnamed people you chose not to identify.

          I think you’re referring to Tina Sablan.

          I considered Glen Hunter, but Tina worked with Kilili, so that’s a plus. Politically, Ed and Tina are similar: public service is needed now, more than ever. Also, both Tina and Ed are 99 percent ego-free, or so it strikes me.

          The same is true of Kilili, and why he was so successful. He cared deeply about the commonwealth and his fellow representatives

          Glen Hunter is of a similar mindset, but apparently not enough to run for office.

          If it’s not Tina then I would be curious to know who it is.


    I first shook her hand near Beach Road, ouside the unfinished SHACK, which was Glen Hunters’ vision and project. The makeshift radion didn’t receive well and I had the audacity to move the radio for better reception. I realized I had committed a sin of some measure, and Glen spared me a dirty look.

    Years later I saw Tina at the American Park theater, when my wife became a US Citizen. After the ceremony, I spied Tina and whispered to her, “Due to an administrative error, all of these people are now citizens of Uruguay.” No laugh, but a smile,

    To be frank, these are only memory fragments. I liked her, despite her well-maintained distance from some, such as me. In speculation, that may be why Tina left Glen high and dry, Tina went to Hawaii to pursue a degree, and Glen (perhaps on the rebound) married a Russian woman, whom I never had the pleasure to meet, Yet, Tina and Greg seemed to be on good terms: You go your way, I’ll go mine. and we’ll stay on friendly terms.

    Some years later I went to Kilili’s office in Susupe, and there was Tina, scurrying around to help our Representative. Tina knew me and gave me one of her polite nods and a smile.

    Another memory of Tina was when I went to the Rush In, a small dining room at the World Resord (now sadly gone), My wife and I gathered our food and began to eat the lousy food, when I spied Tina, with her parents, at a nearby table,

    As always, Tina was cordial and introduced me to her mother and father, I had to kneel, as I did not want to appear hovering over them. We had a brief gratuitous chat, which was pleasant but meaningless.

    If I complain about Tina, it’s about her legitimate facade about not getting too close to others. It would be inappropriae to venture any further any speculation.

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