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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (May 30, 2000 – PIDP/CPIS)---A former lawmaker, unseated during the 1998 American Samoa General Election, has reclaimed his Territorial House of Representative seat following a Special Election for the Ituau District held on Friday.

Businessman Fagasoaia Lealaitafea, 47, was unseated during the 1998 election after serving a one-year term. He was elected in the 1996 election from the same district but lost his seat to an influential traditional high chief.

There were three women among the six candidates and there was a push from women’s associations for the district to elect a woman into the Legislature.

The current sitting of the Legislature has no woman lawmaker and there have been only six women lawmakers in the 51-year history of the Territorial Legislature.

Lealaitafea, who received 329 votes, won by only 64 votes over Mrs. Mary Taufetee.

Of the 2,100 registered voters in the district only 1,023 legal ballots were counted. According to election officials, about 25-30 of the ballots cast were discarded due to errors, such as a voter casting votes for two candidates or placing an "x" outside of the box pertaining to a specific candidate.

The low voter turnout, according to officials, was probably due to the heavy rain that has plagued the territory since Thursday night. Among other possible factors were the many other public activities occurring throughout the day, including the Spring Congratulation of American Samoa Community College.

Territorial House Speaker Aina Sao Nua said Lealaitafea will be sworn into office in mid-July when the 4th and final Regular Session of the 26th Legislature reconvenes.

Lealaitafea replaces former Rep. Malaetasi Mauga Togafau, who resigned on March 31st to take up the government post of Administrative Law Judge.

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