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Northern Mariana Islands delegate announces retirement

by | Feb 7, 2024 | Congress, Northern Mariana Islands | 0 comments

Delegate Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D) of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) announced his retirement on January 21, setting up a primary for the territory’s second delegate since the CNMI received representation.

Sablan was first elected in the 2008 House of Representatives elections, serving as an Independent caucusing with the Democrats until the 2022 elections, officially running as a Democrat for his last term. During his 16 years in office, Sablan succeeded in obtaining increased funding for CNMI schools and the hospital, infrastructure support for water and sewage projects, an expansion in food and energy assistance for low-income individuals, labor and immigration reform, and the reclamation of submerged lands around the islands. He is the longest-serving of the current territorial delegates in Congress.

In his retirement letter, Sablan said, “My love for the Marianas remains strong. But the time has come to pass this responsibility to a new representative, the people,” adding that “The work is far from done.” 

In thanking his constituents, Sablan said, “I will leave Congress believing I have been able to establish the Northern Mariana Islands as a respected member of the American political family. The people of the Marianas gave me this singular honor.”

The CNMI Democratic Party thanked Sablan, highlighting Sablan’s most recent introduction of the Fostering Family Cohesion Nationwide Act last November. The party statement said Sablan “Ensured that the Northern Mariana Islands had a seat at tables where decisions were made that would affect the people — all the people — of the Northern Marianas.”

Governor Arnold I. Palacios (I) said Sablan’s retirement was “So unfortunate” because Sablan “serves us well” with his experience and knowledge of Congress and federal agencies. Palacios added, “I wish him the best in his retirement. Nothing more than to wish him the best because he serves the people of the Commonwealth well, honorably, and respectfully, and he works very, very hard for us.”

In an interview conducted after his retirement announcement, Sablan said he hoped the next delegate would be “Someone with new energy, new ideas, and will hopefully represent us well for a long time.” He also mentioned the fight for equity and parity between CNMI and the rest of the country, urging the next delegate to expand access in CNMI to over 700 federal programs.

Possible successors include the Majority Leader of the CNMI House of Representatives Edwin Propst (D), business consultant John Oliver Bolis Gonzales, and former Commonwealth Ports Authority Board Chair Kimberlyn King-Hinds. Propst indicated last year that he would run if Sablan chose not to, with Gonzales and King-Hinds remaining ambiguous.

Sablan indicated in the interview that he will not endorse a candidate in the Democratic primary yet, adding that he will let the candidates introduce themselves. Still, he will support the Democratic candidate in the general election, saying, “I prefer that a Democrat is elected from here to eternity. The Democratic Party goals and objectives are most beneficial for our people.”

Ending the interview, Sablan said he was motivated by his “Love for the people. My love for the Marianas. Nothing becomes possible if you don’t have that work, that commitment, that responsibility in you. For me, it’s in my heart.” He added, “I think I earned time off. I’m still alive I’m not dead, but you never know, right?”



Aamir Jamil

Aamir Jamil

Aamir Jamil is a student at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. After living in Switzerland and Saudi Arabia, he became fascinated with international affairs, politics, and history. He enjoys reading, researching politics and political trends, discovering American and world history, and poring over the news in his free time. Other hobbies include playing the clarinet and writing for the university newspaper. He is a Federal Affairs Intern Editor at Pasquines.


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