Hagåtña, Guam – Fresh from her trip to Honolulu and San Francisco, Governor Lou Leon Guerrero is optimistic that her detailed discussions with military and federal officials will result in increased funding and resources, and acceleration of Guam’s interests in Congress.
Governor Leon Guerrero first met with U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) Commander Adm. Phil Davidson who assured the Governor that the realignment of U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam is on track and remains on target.
“Adm. Davidson is a highly respected member of our military and agrees with my Administration’s position that the military buildup must be carried out with a ‘One Guam’ approach. Adm. Davidson promised to lobby for Guam and our H-2B visa concerns in Congress. In fact, he told me, ‘Guam is not just America’s first line of defense, it is the center of defense in this part of the world,’” Governor Leon Guerrero said. “I know that with his steadfast support, we will be able to advance our island’s interests even further in Congress.”
With the Guam flag proudly flying on Adm. Davidson’s barge, Governor Leon Guerrero also paid a visit to the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor to honor the CHamorus who died serving our island and country in the Attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II.
U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS
Erosion and flooding in our Southern villages and the decades old Guam Memorial Hospital facility were among the topics Governor Leon Guerrero discussed with Lt. Col. Kathryn P. Sanborn, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Honolulu District.
“Lt. Col. Sanborn is very supportive of Guam and is eager to get us the help we need. She listened intently as I shared with her concerns about erosion in the South of our island. I also spoke to her about facility upgrade needs at our hospital. Lt. Col. Sanborn pledged her support so I’m looking forward to working with the Army Corps of Engineers to tackle these two big issues for Guam,” the Governor said.
With Guam taking the lead in updating the methodology used to calculate Compact-Impact costs, Governor Leon Guerrero’s team met with senior staff from Hawaii Governor David Ige’s office to brief them on the Territory’s plans to address Guam’s Compact-Impact formula. Guam earlier this month was awarded a $280,000 grant from the Department of the Interior to develop a methodology to address the impacts of the Compacts of Free Association (COFA).
“Governor Ige’s staff is relieved that Guam will be spearheading this initiative. Hawaii has the second-highest population of COFA migrants and, like Guam, believes the reimbursement received from the Federal Government for hosting Compact citizens does not measure up to the actual costs incurred by our islands,” Governor Leon Guerrero noted. “We will closely communicate with Governor Ige the adjustments we propose to make and together we hope to make a stronger case when we seek reimbursement.”
The Governor also met with Guam National Guard Wounded Warriors assigned to the Warrior Transition Battalion in Honolulu.
“We took them out to dinner and I was truly humbled to hear about their experiences. Although they are far away from home, I am glad that our soldiers are part of a network of people from Guam in Hawaii who make them feel like they have a family they can rely on. I look forward to the day these heroes are able to come home to be with their loved ones,” Governor Leon Guerrero said.
Governor Leon Guerrero then took her Guam agenda to San Francisco to meet with Region IX agency heads. The Governor met with leaders from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, among other federal agencies.
“I shared with them my vision for Guam and some ideas I had on ways they can help us improve our economy, healthcare, public safety and education,” said Governor Leon Guerrero. “I made sure to come back home with assurances and commitments from our Federal partners of their support. The USDA was keen on providing us with grants and loans to bolster our aquaculture industry, revive the capital city of Hagåtña, and access federal funds for capital improvement projects to the Guam Memorial Hospital and our correctional facilities.”