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Like father, like son.

That sums up an historic milestone on Guam when Gov. Felix Perez Camacho, AS'80, was sworn in as the island's chief executive January 7, thus following in his father's footstep to become the sixth to occupy that elected office since it was established in 1972.


His father, the late Carlos Camacho, Dent'53, was first appointed Governor by President Nixon in 1969 and then successfully ran in the island's first gubernatorial election in 1971 after Congress amended Guam's Organic Act to establish the elected office.

Felix had served five terms as Senator in the Guam Legislature, and in 1998 ran unsuccessfully as lieutenant governor with former Gov. Joseph F. Ada. But in 2002, he ran successfully as governor with Sen. Kaleo Moylan as his lieutenant governor.

The young Governor, still in his mid-40s, took over a government that has been badly crippled by a series of events. He inherited over a $100 million deficit amid a serious economic downturn that challenges both the private and public sectors.

The island's major revenue-generating industry -- tourism -- suffered a major blow as a result of the 9-11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. With the volume of travellers already decreasing because of a lingering economic slowdown in Japan, the fear of travelling following 9-11 dealt another major blow to the island's visitors industry.

Further setback came with the war in Iraq which had caused a large number of Japanese tourists to stay at home. But a more crippling blow was dealt when a super-typhoon struck Guam last December 8 and left the island devastated. Private and public structures and the island's infrastructure suffered over $500 million in damages and destruction.

Immediately after taking office in January, Governor Camacho began to rally the community to face the gigantic challenge. He intensified efforts to lure back the Japanese tourists and  encourage more visitors from Korea, China and Taiwan to come and visit Guam, where America's day begins.

He also travelled to the nation's capital in search of more federal disaster aid and urged for new policies that will enable Guam faster economic recovery.

In addition, Governor Camacho faces a gigantic task of streamling an otherwise bloated government that could no longer be funded at its current level. He had to trim about 20 percent of the workforce, curtail certain services and programs in the face of a crippled economy where unemployment is already hovering at 10 percent.

Having no choice, Governor Camacho is embarking on an ambitious reorganization of the executive branch, proposing to reduce the some 47 departments and agencies into 12 major departments. Certain functions and operations will be fused under the 12 super departments, and other less essentials would be curtailed or eliminated.

To shore up the cash-strapped government coffer, Governor Camacho also sought to float a $240-million revenue bond to help the government pay off its deficit and keep the government running in the meantime. (8/11-03)