Voters in American Samoa have elected former territorial Senate President Lolo Matalasi Moliga to be their governor. The special election was required after none of the six candidates in the Nov. 6 general election received a majority of the vote. Moliga received 53 percent of the ballots, or just over 6,600 votes, in Tuesday’s election. Lt. Gov. Faoa Aitofele Sunia won 47 percent. “This victory is not our victory but the people of American Samoa’s victory,” Moliga told supporters at his campaign headquarters. He said his campaign motto “People First” will remain throughout his term in office.
Moliga had an edge in terms of endorsements after the other four gubernatorial candidates supported him in the special election.
Chief Election Officer Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono officially declared the winner late Tuesday night.
Gov. Togiola Tulafono, who is barred from seeking a third consecutive four-year term, congratulated Moliga and Sunia on a well-fought battle. He said voters have spoken and picked Moliga.
“Let us all embrace that decision and move forward,” he said Wednesday.
Moliga was president of the government owned Development Bank of American Samoa for three years. He stepped down in June to run for governor. Between 2004 and 2008, he served as the territory’s Senate president.
Moliga was a cabinet director for previous governors and served in the territorial House of Representatives for eight years. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from San Diego State University. He was an educator for many years before running for public office.