Sen.-elect Darrel Christopher Barnett has been in the public eye for many years, once a comedic radio personality turned reporter, now senator-elect.
He told The Guam Daily Post he is serious about effecting change as a member of the 37th Guam Legislature, while maintaining a policy of keeping an open door and an open mind.
Barnett was the second highest vote getter in the senatorial race of the general election with 21,515 votes cast for him to be a local lawmaker.
The results humbled him, he said.
"Si Yu’os maåse. I am humbled by your voice. I hear you and I will fight for what is right and good for Guam,” Barnett said in response to the victory.
For years, Barnett was on the opposite side of the political table, talking about issues within the community, asking questions and holding elected leaders accountable through media. Now, heading into a a decision-making position as an elected leader, he intends to take aggressive steps to address key issues like the endemic drug problem which has “wreaked havoc” on the island, he said.
And Barnett isn’t waiting until he takes office in January.
"I have already begun preliminary meetings with key stakeholders. Our people need us to work together to solve this epidemic because one body of leaders cannot turn this problem around. It will require a cooperative effort between all branches of government and our community partners,” the Democratic senator-elect said.
He said he used the same approach to get a head start in addressing concerns about the public school system on island.
"Our children deserve better than adequate. I believe we have to work hard to show our youth that we believe in them, and that belief should be reflected in reality,” said Barnett who is a father of students in the Guam Department of Education.
The senator-elect told the Post he has a set of priorities, as well as agencies, where he hopes to be able to effect change as “the people’s watchdog."
"My priorities will be oversight, reform and support for agencies that directly impact investing in our youth and the public’s safety. In the majority caucus, I will seek leadership or seats with the committees on education, public safety, federal affairs, village mayors, veterans, parks and recreation, culture and the port. I will always work hard to be the people’s watchdog and root out, expose and end corruption,” Barnett said.
Understanding that it will not be an easy road ahead, Barnett said he will maintain a critical eye when policies or issues come across his desk.
"I will be a leader for all of our people. I am fair, but I fight hard against those who are trying to fool us and swindle our people. I am open-minded to ideas, but critical of them if they’re not good for Guam. If I am not familiar with an issue, I will engage everyone on both sides. I am accessible, not just to those who voted me in, but even to those whose ideas I might not agree with,” he told the Post.