A political legacy to continue for aspiring politician
With just a few weeks away from polling day, the lone female candidate vying for the electoral seat of Falealupo is optimistic.
Senior lawyer Leota Tima Leavai may be a novice to the political arena, but politics is already an established domain in the Leavai family, as her father, A'e'au Dr. Peniamina Leavai served as a Member of Parliament and represented Falealupo in the Legislative Assembly for 26 years.
Samoa's longest-serving opposition member, A'e'au who first entered Parliament in 1985 as M.P. for Falealupo under the banner of the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.), retired after the XVI Parliamentary term.
A'e'au re-entered Parliament in 2001 with the opposition and hasn’t left his seat since then.
His daughter, Leota, is following her father's footsteps by flagging the banner of the H.R.P.P. party in her first attempt at becoming a politician.
Leota could change the political history of Falealupo in the upcoming General Election, after years of opposing the government, if she is chosen to be their M.P. for Samoa's next parliamentary term.
In an interview with the Weekend Observer in Savai'i on Friday, an optimistic Leota said she is "unbothered" by her election opponents as she is placing her trust on the "loyalties of her voters."
She admits that she detests the campaign strategies by some election opponents, threatening to penalise voters (from Falealupo) should they decide to support or vote for the other candidates (including Leota).
Leota is facing two candidates in Falealupo's election race next month. One candidate is also running under the banner of the H.R.P.P. Solia Iosefa Kalolo, and the other candidate is flagging the banner of the Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) Fuiono Tenina Crichton.
"I don't like the intimidating [campaign] and threatening people that they will be fined by the village if they don't vote for a particular candidate," Leota who also holds the matai title A'e'au from Falealupo said.
"[But] I am not bothered by it.
"I am trusting the loyalties of my voters."
While other election candidates come up with a list of developments and plans for their respective constituencies ahead of April's election, Leota's campaign message is plain and simple.
"My message to my voters is that I will do my best for the development of the constituency.
"I can't really say which area, but I will definitely look at the development of education for the children within the constituency and women's rights.
"I also want to solve and address this culture of intimidating and threatening our people, by a few groups of matai.
"That is something I do not like."
Asked if she is confident in her preparations, Leota said: "If I say that I'm confident, people might interpret it as I am being arrogant."
However, Leota is at ease knowing that they have served her constituency well and is a true believer that "work speaks" like the theme of H.R.P.P.'s campaign this year.
"I am also relying on the support of my families and those who have placed their trust in me.
"I am also hoping for a peaceful and clean election.
"I have no intention of forcing people to vote for me and I will leave it to them to make their own choice.
"There are threats by others looking to penalise those who do not vote for them, but I think that is something we should score out."
What is her last message to her election opponents?
"I wish them all the best and I send them my regards."
Leota is one of 21 women candidates sprinkled throughout the constituencies as the country heads in to the final weeks before polling.