RICHARD FLORES TAITANO
A man with a small frame, but a political dynamo.
He was universally acknowledged as smart. Valedictorian of his graduating class at George Washington. Prior to that, a student at the pre-war private school, the Guam Institute. Educated in the mainland at Berea College (Kentucky) and the Wharton School, a part of the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania.
He held some important positions. Director of Finance (GovGuam), 1952-1961. Deputy High Commissioner of the Trust Territory, 1964-1966. He served six terms (12 years) in the Guam Legislature in the late 60s and early 70s. Notably, he was the first and only islander to serve as head of the Office of Territories in the Department of Interior in Washington in the early 1960s.
He was a candidate in the first election for Guam's Governor and Lieutenant Governor. That was in 1970. He was running mate to Ricky Bordallo, who was running for Governor under the Democratic banner.
I remember that election. The Bordallo campaign had mystic, or religious, overtones. The campaign was called New Day, and the jingle said, "Hey, a New Day is coming, coming." How could I forget? The Bordallo pick-up trucks would go throughout the village with the jingle playing on loud speakers. In contrast, I also heard the Camacho-Moylan jingle, "Keep Camacho Governor!"
A NEW DAY
The torch, and motto, "Never in Darkness," lent the campaign a semi-religious aura.
WHAT I HEARD ABOUT DICK
Older people would say that Dick was smart because he was a Kueto, a branch of the Taitanos. My mother worked for him at both the Department of Finance and at the Trust Territory office, and she said he was smart and a good administrator. During the 1970 campaign, I was told that Dick was a savvy campaigner, one of the main strategists. It was he who went after the opponents, while Ricky stuck to the lofty agenda proposed by the New Day. Others would say that, despite his aggressive campaign style, Dick was a man of principle, whose word was as good as gold. As a senator, it was said he stood by his convictions, even when his stance was unpopular.
WHAT I SAW
By the time I came along and became active in politics (Guam Youth Congress), Dick was a senior senator. I would see him during legislative sessions, wearing a sweater. He was very thin all his life and probably felt the cold more than others. By that time he also had respiratory issues and sometimes needed to leave the session hall to get fresh air. After he retired from politics, his breathing became more of a challenge.
In his younger days
The Micronesian Area Research Center at UOG is named after him because he authored the legislation that created MARC.