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Rest in peace: Former speaker Don Parkinson

By Jacob Nakamura

Former Speaker of the Legislature Don Parkinson died this morning. Speaker Tina Muna Barnes announced his death and offered her condolences to his family on behalf of the Guam Legislature.

"During his terms in the Legislature, Speaker Parkinson advocated for every day, hardworking Guamanians, fighting for unemployment insurance, and lowering of utility rates. He was a visionary, one who advocated for Guam’s economic stability, and a 10-year sustainable energy plan.
“To his wife Marina and his children, I would like to extend my heartfelt condolences to you – Speaker Parkinson’s legacy will always live on throughout Guam’s history. The People of Guam today lost a staunch advocate of Democratic ideals. Speaker Parkinson, thank you for all you’ve done for our island.” - Ms. Muna Barnes

In honor of Speaker Parkinson, flags at the Guam Congress Building will be flown at half-staff for the remainder of the week. Mr. Parkinson was first elected in 1982 to the 17th Guam Legislature, largely on a platform to protect consumers by keeping power rates low. He was re-elected through 1994, when in the 23rd Guam Legislature he was elected by a coalition of Democrats and Republicans to be speaker of the Legislature and an effective ally to then-newly-elected Gov. Carl Gutierrez.

“Speaker Don Parkinson we’re close colleagues in the legislature and became allies when I was governor and he was speaker... he loved Guam... and the people of Guam loved him," Mr. Gutierrez said. "He certainly made his mark when he first ran for Senator... I remember his ads where he was squeezing 90% of the water out of a frozen chicken."

Mr. Parkinson was a gifted orator with a sharp tongue, who dedicated his life in public service to protecting consumers from unethical business practices and runaway power rates. He and Mr. Gutierrez responded to the rolling electricity blackouts of the 1980s with a major investment into the generators and backup generators that now provide power to the island.

Mr. Parkinson and Mr. Gutierrez worked together throughout the 1980s and 1990s as powerhouses through a generation that saw the largest post-war acceleration of wealth into a middle class on Guam. As colleagues in the Legislature, Mr. Gutierrez was the chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee and Mr. Parkinson controlled the floor agenda as the Majority Leader and the chairman of the power and consumer protection committee.

Congressman Michael San Nicolas also remembers Mr. Parkinson's fight for consumers:

"Speaker Parkinson fought for the people. His legacy as a champion for consumers was the hallmark of his public service. Our deepest condolences to the Parkinson family. He was a true public servant." - Mr. San Nicolas
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