Wednesday, October 3, 2007


The message:
Dear people of the Commonwealth,
Lately citizens
have been asking me what kind of legislator I would be if I were elected. Will I compromise my principles and vote against my better judgment on my colleagues' bills so I can win their votes for my bills? Have I identified anyone in the Legislature who would support my ideas? Do I realize that pushing bills through the Legislature is a "numbers game," a game of tit for tat, of "I'll scratch your back, if you scratch mine"? Am I willing to set aside idealism for two years and play the games of old school politics?
Underneath all those questions, there seems to be one burning question that has been implied but not yet directly asked: How will I avoid burning out, breaking down, and wasting two years of my life?
Most of us by now should be well aware of the games that our lawmakers have played for years in order to win votes, earn favors, pass bills, put a check on independent thinkers within the Legislature, and even put a check on their own constituents. They work behind the scenes, promising votes or favors in exchange for other votes or favors. They manipulate purse strings, session schedules, and meeting agendas to suit their own ends. They exploit the weaknesses of their colleagues and constituents – their gullibility, their egos, their fears. They pass bills quickly and quietly – to appease the governor, perhaps, or to benefit themselves, or to avoid public outcry. If a bill is really controversial, they might schedule a session in Rota or Tinian to avoid scrutiny, or cancel it altogether. They might not break the law, but they are adept at bending it, and can rationalize virtually any decision they make, however unethical it might be.
Such is the culture of gamesmanship that has evolved at our Legislature, a culture that has caused many a good, honest citizen to shudder at the thought of public office. Well-meaning individuals who decide to try it either leave frustrated and disappointed, or they stay year after year and become adept at the manipulation, backstabbing, and other forms of petty politics that have characterized our Legislature. And so the culture of gamesmanship continues.
I can imagine that if one stays in the Legislature long enough, this culture of gamesmanship would begin to seem natural, even inevitable – the way things simply are and the way they always will be. For seasoned politicians, and for weary long-time observers of local politics, a vision of anything different in the Legislature would seem hopelessly idealistic and na├»ve.
But these politicians and political observers would only be right if the people of this Commonwealth believe they are right. They would only be right if the people also cannot imagine anything different, if they do not believe that they deserve more than gamesmanship from their elected representatives.
And so I come to this crucial point: the culture of gamesmanship at the Legislature will change when the people decide that they want change. Gamesmanship is made possible not only by the politicians who practice it, but also by voters who elect them again and again, and by citizens who keep silent and do nothing even when conscience calls them to speak up and take action.
If we truly want change in the Legislature, why not demand it? If we want new leaders who would refuse to play games in public office, why not elect them, or run for office ourselves? If elected representatives become ostracized in the Legislature for calling for transparency and accountability in government and for defending the public welfare, where will citizens be, what will citizens do?
Will we initiate or respond to calls for action? Will we turn out for public hearings and forums, circulate and sign petitions, send letters of protest or praise, and demonstrate? Will we make an effort to become informed about the issues and the candidates before we vote? Will any of us be willing to step forward to run for public office ourselves someday and be the change we wish to see in the Commonwealth?
Or will we simply shake our heads, keep our mouths shut, feel sympathy for the embattled representative or citizen of the day – and allow other politicians to continue to play games with our tax dollars, our wellbeing, our future?
As citizens we should absolutely be asking all the candidates this year where they stand on the issues we care about, and what they plan to do about the problems of the Commonwealth. But we should also be turning the very same questions to ourselves: where do WE stand on the issues, each one of us, and what do WE plan to do to help?
For myself, I know that I will avoid burning out, breaking down, and wasting two years of my life in public office by upholding my convictions, pushing for maximum transparency and accountability in government, urging other citizens to participate in the affairs of our government, and helping to build a long-term vision for the Commonwealth that incorporates the best ideas and aspirations of all our people.
Problems that have been years in the making will take far longer than two years to resolve, and there is only so much that one person can do alone. But tackling the enormous challenges we face in the Commonwealth should not be the work of only one person, nor should it be the work of only the government. Rebuilding the Commonwealth must be the work of the entire community, and we must be committed to it for the long haul. I am counting on fellow citizens to join me.
I may be reached at 483-3935, or by email at .
-- CHRISTINA (TINA) SABLAN.. for House of Representatives, Precinct 1Independent, # 7 on the Ballot.. Tel: (670) 483-3935.. Email: URL:


Jonas said...

Sharp cookie that one! Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be enough people strong enough to stand up like she does.

glend558 said...


Anonymous said...

Can I transfer to her district so I could vote for her? Since I can vote for 6, I want all my 6 votes to go to Tina.

Tamara said...

Tina is just all around AWESOME! BIBA TINA!