Guam residents weigh political status options
HAGATNA, Guam (AP) — Guam government officials and community members are engaging in discussions about the island's political status referendum.
The Commission on Decolonization held its first community meeting in Hagatna on Monday. The group plans to conduct more than 100 meetings throughout the rest of the year to bring awareness to its decolonization efforts, The Pacific Daily News reported (http://bit.ly/2bPDbsQ).
Several government officials and island leaders, including Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo and Democratic Sen. Rory Respicio, attended the inaugural event. Both are running for re-election.
Respicio said the goal of the meeting was to educate people about Guam's three political status options regarding its relationship with the U.S.: independence, statehood or free association.
Gov. Eddie Calvo announced plans earlier this year to hold the referendum in November with the general election. But that proposal has been put on hold by litigation challenging the vote in federal court.
Guam resident Arnold Davis, who is neither legally nor ethnically Chamorro, has challenged the government's proposed election because he doesn't meet the legal definition of native inhabitant.
Davis and his attorney argue that the local law limiting the vote to only Chamorro citizens is discriminatory.
The Commission on Decolonization and the Independence for Guahan Task Force, which also attended the Monday meeting, have been working to educate people on what the political status options could mean for Guam.
Melvin Won Pat Borja, a member of the task force, said there needs to be a focus on reaching out to Guam's youth who are going to be most impacted by the decolonization vote. He said the vote shouldn't take place until at least the 2020 general election to give young people more time to get caught up on the matter.
The decolonization commission's next community conversation is planned for Monday in Agat.