At a Mayor’s Council of Guam meeting today, several of our island mayors voiced their opposition to Bill 33-35, which seeks to transfer the authority and oversight of the Guam Island Fair Committee from the Mayor’s Council of Guam to the Guam Visitors Bureau. The bill would put GVB in charge of the upcoming 75th annual Liberation Day carnival, parade and other festivities. Dededo Mayor Melissa Savares announced the mayors would continue to steamroll ahead with their plans. The mayors also collectively voiced their support for Bill 29-35, which would allow the mayors to reintroduce games of chance at the Liberation Day carnival. In response, today my office sent out open invitations to MCOG and GVB to meet with me on Bill 33-35, because I care about their concerns. However, the mayors need to keep in mind and heart the interests of all Guam residents when it comes to Liberation Day, no matter the village they represent. We need to honor the voice and will of the people, who without room for compromise have staunchly said no to gambling five times since 2000.
Our island suffers from many social ills. Drug addiction, alcoholism and abuse in all its forms continue to plague our families. Gambling and even games of chance, which could serve as gateways to bigger gambling, are yet another social ill I’m working hard to stomp out. My opposition is not personal. The people and public we serve constantly remind us that gambling is unconscionable and we need to listen to the people’s voice. Despite the mayors continuing to go against the people’s voice, our office continues to work to find alternative solutions in spite of our government’s financial constraints. I sent out letters to our regional neighbors at their respective consulate offices inquiring about how they could potentially contribute to our festivities. Additionally, today I met with the Young Men’s League of Guam for the same purpose. I am doing my due diligence to find more reputable lines of revenue and I’m leaning on our community partners to chime in with their support. I don’t believe resurrecting a casino or allowing gambling serves Guam’s best interests. We can all work harder to find alternative funding.
It’s been decades since Guam banned poker machine parlors and voters turned down casino propositions, but the stories of families adversely affected by gambling addictions live on. I ask the people of Guam to exercise your citizenship by calling the offices of your mayors, senators and governor. Share your stories and remind our island leaders that our culture was built on love, peace and unity – not on gambling.