Most of the ballots have been counted by now, and the writing is on the wall. It is not the outcome that Leila and I hoped for. But it is an outcome we accept.
Leila and I congratulate Governor Torres and Senator Sablan, and Lieutenant Governor Palacios and Mayor Apatang for the success of their respective campaigns as they head into the runoff.
From the bottom of our hearts we also thank our incredible team of supporters, volunteers, donors, Democratic Party leaders and fellow candidates, and our families, for an amazing campaign. It was clean, issue-driven, and spirited. It was fun. It was inspiring. It was historic in so many ways. We ran on a platform of good governance, and we did it with love for our islands and a hopeful vision for our future.
I am so very proud of the hard work that we’ve all put in together this past year, to mount a great campaign and offer our people real choices on the ballot. It has been the honor of a lifetime to stand as your candidate for governor, and to run with an individual of such integrity, compassion, intelligence, and courage as Leila for lieutenant governor.
Leila and I campaigned on the promise of change. And we said all throughout that this campaign was about more than just winning this election, and more than just the next four years. We sought to lay the foundations for a fair, honest, and fiscally responsible government, and a thriving future for all. Our efforts will not end today.
Now, I am very aware that some are saying, the results of this election show that the people of the Marianas are not ready for change, or don’t want change, or are afraid of change. I’d like to offer some encouragement to anyone feeling disappointment right now.
I looked back today at an open letter I wrote in November 2009, after losing an election then. I wrote, “Change is a process. It is often a slow process, and an uphill battle, and there will always be setbacks along this journey. We must expect setbacks, and continue to move forward nevertheless with our eyes set firmly on our vision for a healthier, more just, and more prosperous future.”
We have to celebrate the wins too. Leila and I didn’t win this election – but let’s celebrate the fact that Democrats and Independents won seats in the legislature, and may very well control the majorities in the House and Senate. Let’s also celebrate that the gubernatorial election results show that more than 60% of those who cast their ballots voted for a change in administration. That’s more than 60% of voters across the Marianas agreeing that we cannot afford another four years with Ralph Torres as governor, and that we want and deserve a government that is worthy of our trust.
Many have asked us, so what’s next? Our immediate next task as citizens is to participate in the upcoming runoff election, and make sure that there will not be another four years with Ralph Torres as governor. We have seen and suffered enough abuses of our trust in his administration.
Leila and I are asking all of our supporters to vote for Arnold Palacios and David Apatang in the runoff. They are the better choice. And they can surely expect that we will hold them to the same standards of honesty, fairness, and accountability that Leila and I hold ourselves to.
Our message to our supporters is this: Don’t despair. Don’t lose hope. Keep the faith, and get out and vote.
Beyond the runoff election, and regardless of the results, our commonwealth needs us all to continue to fight the good fight for a future we can be proud of. Remember that this government belongs to all of us. Remember that we have the power to change our government, and demand the representation that we deserve. The movement for good governance must continue.
As for Leila and me, we aren’t going anywhere. Our hearts are here. We will serve out the remainder of our terms as legislators, and we thank the people of the Marianas, and especially the people of Precinct 2 and Precinct 5 who have given us the great honor of representing them.
We will seek other ways to serve our community after our terms have ended. We know that our commonwealth can only progress as long as there are people who love this place enough to stick around and do the hard work to make it better. Our future depends on it.
May God bless our Marianas.