06 Apr 2018
- By Lori Lyn C. Lirio – [email protected] – Variety News Staff
COMMONWEALTH Healthcare Corporation public information officer Samantha “Sami” A’ani Birmingham-Babauta will run as an independent candidate for one of Precinct 1’s six House seats.
Birmingham-Babauta, 24, said she wants to represent the women and millennials in the CNMI Legislature.
“I decided to run because I wanted to do more work than just going to the podium, saying my piece, sharing my voice. I want to try to change things from the other side of the system,” she said. “I want to have an opportunity to be in the system and to draft legislation in partnership with agencies.”
Based on her experience so far, she said, legislation is drafted without partnership with the relevant agencies.
“The power of conversation is so important. We don’t have enough communication between the two sides and it always feels like two separate systems are working against each other. My goal is to have one fluid system working together and building each agency with what they actually need and what is necessary for the community and the people,” she said.
At a recent public hearing, Birmingham-Babauta testified against House Bill 20-149, which would have turned CHCC into an executive branch department.
“If you wonder why my generation doesn’t enjoy coming home and working for the CNMI, it’s because we do our best, we come home, and we have to keep fighting with you to let us do good work,” Birmingham-Babauta told lawmakers.
“My generation is always being told, ‘You are the future,’ but we need to start being ‘the now,’” she said in an interview with Variety.
“I’m applying for a new job to do work on a larger platform and I hope to encourage more new faces to join me in the coming elections,” she said.
Birmingham-Babauta started working for the hospital as a health policy writer, then as a researcher before becoming its public information officer.
“That is where I got my exposure to the CNMI government and how the system works. Working with Legislature, reading all the logs related to the hospital, and reading the bills introduced and then trying to figure out ways how they could be better for the people and the hospital,” she said.
“Having a lot of exposure and a lot of frustration motivated me to make the decision to run. Before, it had always been a thought. I told myself ‘why not?’ There’s no millennial up there. It is an election year. Why not apply for a legislative with the people as my entire application panel?”
If elected, Birmingham-Babauta said she would focus on issues that are close to her — healthcare, the environment and illegal dumping.
“There are issues that pop up all over. Issues experienced by everybody,” she added.
Birmingham-Babauta was born and raised on Saipan. She went to Saipan Southern High School and Marianas High School, and after graduating from MHS, she completed her first year of college at the University of Guam.
She then transferred to California State University Northridge where she obtained a bachelor of science degree in kinesiology.
In 2011, Birmingham-Babauta became the CNMI’s first Gates Millennium Scholar in 2011.
Today, she said she is “humbly seeking the ability to represent my community further than just at the podium in the chamber, but through having a seat at the table.”
Birmingham-Babauta is the daughter of and Donald Borja Babauta “Samo,” a former police officer, and Linda Birmingham, former owner of Black and White and Samantha’s Passion and current educator at Hopwood Jr. High School.
Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/103503-chcc-spokeswoman-seeks-house-seat