Striving for the Best: Talking Public Service with Rep. Edmund Villagomez
Techandburgers: Thank you so much, Rep. Edmund Villagomez, for taking the time to chat with us today as part of our series on Midterms: 2018. Tell us a bit more about yourself. What made you decide to pursue a career in public service? And, what are some of your greatest achievements during your time in office?
Rep. Edmund Villagomez: I have a couple of achievements, all of which were made possible with the support of my colleagues, past and present, and also my support for them. I have been in office since 2010. The first that comes to mind was when I partnered up with former Rep. Felicidad Ogumoro to open up the Garapan Community Development Center.
That center has done a lot for the precinct. We collaborated with other organizations in the public and private sector. It has now taken a life of its own and Felicidad Ogumoro is still actively involved.
I have authored some bills that were signed into law with the support of my colleagues and the different government agencies and organizations in the community; laws such as PL17-83, which strengthened the Alcoholic Beverages Control act; PL18-3, which strengthened the law on sexual violence and sexual abuse; PL18-58 strengthened the regulations on tour guides and operators.
A similar law, authored by Rep. Angel Demapan, has been signed recently to give it more teeth. I supported it as well. I have and continue to support bills to improve areas in the precinct. One good example is a House Joint Resolution, which was authored by Rep. Attao, to fix the road in Mt. Tapochau and Chalan Galaide, a road that connects from Navy Hill up to Tapochau.
There are other bills that I have introduced and co authored that are still going through the legislative process and I look forward to seeing them signed into law. I will continue to work with my colleagues to introduce and support legislation that tackle the issues facing the CNMI.
In addition, I will also continue to work with other government agencies and community organizations to come up with solutions that will benefit the people of the CNMI.
TB: In your perspective, what are some of the major opportunities and challenges facing the CNMI in the next decade?
Rep. Edmund Villagomez: In general, I think maintaining the momentum we have with the economy. That in itself is a major opportunity and challenge. Right now, we are starting to see government obligations being paid, land compensation being paid, a full pension for retirees, more money for community projects and programs, etc. This was made possible mainly because of a new industry on Saipan.
It has also benefited Tinian and Rota as well. The challenge is maintaining this upswing in our economy. If we don’t, there will be a lot of problems. I was in my first term when we experienced a government shutdown. I was there when people got their pay cut.
I was there when CUC had to share the load of power just so that the island residents can have power for a few hours in the day. There will always be external factors beyond our control so we need to be on top of it. A strong economy means better public service for the people.
TB: Can you tell us a little about your family?
Rep. Edmund Villagomez: I come from a small family of five. I am the oldest of three children. I am also a father to a beautiful little girl.
TB: What are some of your top priorities, for the CNMI, right now?
Rep. Edmund Villagomez: There are challenges that the CNMI is faced with, but more importantly I recognize and appreciate the seriousness of different priorities among other elected officials.
I try to be guided by a vision of enduring development fostered by sound research and analysis with the sense of urgency throughout the government. I believe that the development of policies and plans must include economic progress, social progress, and environmental progress.
With that said, my priorities right now are to promote transparency and accountability, reduction of government debt and obligations, promote entrepreneurship, improve the quality of education, health, and infrastructure, promote merit based employment, and lastly to protect, preserve, and promote our culture.
TB: Are there any problematical areas in the local government that you would like to work out in your next term?
Rep. Edmund Villagomez: The outcry in the community is for more transparency, accountability, and enforcement of laws. So that is something to work on if I do get re-elected into office for another term. We are still working on it now and also in the past, but we can work on it some more.
TB: Thank you again for your time and honest responses. Any last words?
Rep. Edmund Villagomez: I would like to thank you for the opportunity for this interview. I hope that this will educate the readers on what we do here in the legislature and how we serve the Commonwealth. Thank you again for the opportunity.