Legislature of Guam

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Legislature of Guam

Liheslaturan Guåhan
35th Guam Legislature
Seal of Guam.svg
Term limits
no limit
FoundedMay 23, 1950
Preceded byGuam Congress
Tina Muna Barnes (D)
since January 7, 2019
Vice Speaker and Majority Leader
Telena Cruz Nelson (D)
since January 7, 2019
Legislative Secretary and Majority Whip
Amanda Shelton (D)
since January 7, 2019
Minority Leader
William M. Castro (R)
since January 7, 2019
Minority Whip
Telo Taitague (R)
since January 7, 2019
Guam legislature.svg
Political groups


Length of term
2 years (no term limit)
AuthorityOrganic Act of Guam
Salary$55,000 [1]
Plurality-at-large voting
Last election
November 6, 2018
Next election
November 3, 2020
Meeting place
Guam Congress Building in Agaña, Guam
Organic Act of Guam
Seal of Guam.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

The Legislature of Guam (Chamorro: Liheslaturan Guåhan) is the law-making body for the United States territory of Guam. The unicameral legislative branch consists of fifteen senators, each serving for a two-year term. All members of the legislature are elected at-large with the island under one whole district. After the enactment of the Guam Organic Act in 1950, the First Guam Legislature was elected composing of 21 elected members. Today, the current fifteen-member 35th Guam Legislature (Chamorro: I Mina' Trentai Singko Na Liheslaturan Guåhan) was elected in November 2018.


Spanish Period: 1668–1898[edit]

During the Spanish colonial era, lasting roughly from the 1670s until 1898, Guam was provided with no colonial legislature. All political decisions on the island were left to a Madrid appointed governor, who, until 1817, reported to the Viceroy of New Spain in Mexico. Due to New Spain's distance from Guam and the speed of transportation of the times, Guam's leadership often took matters into its own hands. During the Mexican War of Independence, when Spain increasingly saw New Spain falling through its grip, Madrid transferred Guam's political authority to the Governor of Manila, and after 1821, fully to the Spanish Philippines.

American Period: 1898–1941, 1944–present[edit]

Spain lost Guam during the 1898 Spanish–American War in a bloodless invasion. For the next forty years, the United States Navy assumed executive control of the island, treating it more as a military outpost than an overseas territory, with little to no civilian say in the island's affairs. Governor Captain Willis Winter Bradley instituted the Guam Congress during the 1930s as an elected advisory body to the naval governor. On December 8, 1941, Imperial Japanese forces invaded Guam, beginning a three-year occupation of the island. The island was eventually retaken in 1944 during the intense Battle of Guam.

Following the end of the war, the U.S. Navy attempted to resume military control of the islands, much to the dismay of the local Chamorro population who demanded greater rights on the heels of the harsh Japanese occupation. The U.S. federal government listened. The result was the Guam Organic Act of 1950 signed by President Harry S. Truman. The act established a civilian territorial government with executive, legislative, and judicial branches. It was the first time that Guam had a democratic civilian government.

Past Speakers of the Guam Legislature[edit]

Legislature Speaker Born-Died Term Party
1st Guam Legislature Antonio B. Won Pat (1908–1987) January 1, 1951 – January 3, 1955 Popular Party
2nd Guam Legislature
3rd Guam Legislature Francisco B. Leon Guerrero (1897–1974) January 3, 1955 – January 7, 1957 Territorial Party
4th Guam Legislature Antonio B. Won Pat (1908–1987) January 7, 1957 – January 4, 1965 Popular Party
5th Guam Legislature
6th Guam Legislature
7th Guam Legislature
8th Guam Legislature Carlos P. Taitano (1917–2009) January 4, 1965 – January 2, 1967 Territorial Party
9th Guam Legislature Joaquin C. Arriola (b. 1925) January 2, 1967 – January 4, 1971 Democratic
10th Guam Legislature
11th Guam Legislature Florencio T. Ramirez (1915–1995) January 4, 1971 – January 6, 1975 Democratic
12th Guam Legislature
13th Guam Legislature Joseph F. Ada (b. 1943) January 6, 1975 – January 1, 1979 Republican
14th Guam Legislature
15th Guam Legislature Thomas V.C. Tanaka (b. 1940) January 1, 1979 – January 3, 1983 Republican
16th Guam Legislature
17th Guam Legislature Carl T.C. Gutierrez (b. 1941) January 3, 1983 – January 5, 1987 Democratic
18th Guam Legislature
19th Guam Legislature Franklin J. Arceo Quitugua (1933–2015) January 5, 1987 – January 2, 1989 Democratic
20th Guam Legislature Joe T. San Agustin (b. 1931) January 2, 1989 – January 2, 1995 Democratic
21st Guam Legislature
22nd Guam Legislature
23rd Guam Legislature Don Parkinson (b. ?) January 2, 1995 – January 6, 1997 Democratic
24th Guam Legislature Antonio "Tony" R. Unpingco (1942–2007) January 6, 1997 – January 6, 2003 Republican
25th Guam Legislature
26th Guam Legislature
27th Guam Legislature Vicente "Ben" C. Pangelinan (1955–2014) January 6, 2003 – January 3, 2005 Democratic
28th Guam Legislature Mark Forbes (b. 1954) January 3, 2005 – March 7, 2008 Republican
29th Guam Legislature
29th Guam Legislature Judith T. Won Pat (b. 1949) March 7, 2008 – January 2, 2017 Democratic
30th Guam Legislature
31st Guam Legislature
32nd Guam Legislature
33rd Guam Legislature
34th Guam Legislature Benjamin J.F. Cruz (b. 1951) January 2, 2017 – August 28, 2018 Democratic
Therese M. Terlaje (acting) (b. ?) August 28, 2018 - January 7, 2019
35th Guam Legislature Tina Muna Barnes (b. 1962) January 7, 2019 – present Democratic

Structure of the Guam Legislature[edit]

The Guam Organic Act of 1950 provides for the establishment of the Guam Legislature. The Organic Act provides that the Guam Legislature is a unicameral body with up to twenty-one members and that elections shall be held every two years. Until a change to Guam law in 1996, the Guam Legislature had 21 members, called senators, but since then it has had 15 senators. Senators of the Guam Legislature have been elected both by a number of at-large districts and by an island-wide at-large election. Since the 1980s, senators of the Guam Legislature have been elected at-large through an open partisan primary and a subsequent island-wide election.


The qualifications for membership in the legislature are expressly stated in the Organic Act of Guam:

  • a candidate must be at least twenty-five years old, and;
  • a candidate must have lived on Guam for at least five years preceding the sitting of the legislature in which he or she seeks to become a member.


The legislature currently meets at the Guam Congress Building along Chalan Santo Papa in the village of Hagåtña, directly across from the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral Basilica.

24th through 30th Guam Legislatures[edit]

In the November 1996 legislative elections, the Republican Party defeated the Democratic Party. The Republicans held 11 seats (Antonio Unpingco, Anthony C. Blaz, Joanne M. Salas Brown, Mark Forbes, Felix Perez Camacho, Eduardo J. Cruz, Alberto C. Lamorena V, Lawrence F. Kasperbauer, Carlotta Leon Guerrero, Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson and John C. Salas). The Democrats held 10 seats (Vicente C. Pangelinan, Lou Leon Guerrero, Franciso P. Camacho, Thomas C. Ada, Frank B. Aguon Jr., Mark C. Charfauros, Francis E. Santos, Judith Won Pat-Borja, Willam Flores, and Angel L.G. Santos).

In the November 1998 legislative elections, the Republican Party defeated the Democratic Party. The Republicans held a 12-seat "super" majority (Speaker Antonio Unpingco, Vice Speaker Anthony C. Blaz, Legislative Secretary Joanne M. Salas Brown, Majority Leader Mark Forbes, Asst. Majority leader Eddie Calvo, Majority Whip Lawrence F. Kasperbauer, Asst. Majority Whip Kaleo Moylan, Simon A. Sanchez II, Marcel G. Camacho, Alberto "Tony" C. Lamorena V, Carlotta A. Leon Guerrero, and Dr. John C. Salas). The Democrats held three seats (Vicente C. Pangelinan, Eulogio C. Bermudes, and Frank B. Aguon Jr.).

In the November 2000 legislative elections, the Republican Party defeated the Democratic Party. The Republicans held 8 seats (Speaker Antonio Unpingco, Vice Speaker Lawrence F. Kasperbauer, Legislative Secretary Joanne M. Salas Brown, Majority Leader Mark Forbes, Asst. Majority leader Eddie Calvo, Majority Whip Felix Perez Camacho, Asst. Majority Whip Kaleo Moylan, and Joseph F. Ada). The Democrats held seven seats (Vicente C. Pangelinan, Lou Leon Guerrero, Mark C. Charfauros, Judith Won Pat-Borja, Thomas C. Ada, Frank B. Aguon Jr. and Angel L.G. Santos).

In the November 2002 legislative elections, the Democratic Party defeated the Republican Party. The Democrats held 9 seats (Speaker Vicente C. Pangelinan, Vice Speaker Frank B. Aguon, Jr., Legislative Secretary Tina Muna Barnes, Majority Leader Lou Leon Guerrero, Asst. Majority leader Antoinette Sanford, Majority Whip Carmen Fernandez, Asst. Majority Whip John M. Quinata, Rory J. Respicio, and F. Randall Cunliffe). The Republicans held six seats (Mark Forbes, Joanne M. Salas Brown, Lawrence Kasperbauer, Jesse Anderson Lujan, Robert Kiltzkie and Ray Tenorio).

In the November 2004 legislative elections, the Republican Party defeated the Democratic Party. The Republicans held 9 seats (Speaker Mark Forbes, Vice Speaker Joanne Salas Brown, Majority Leader Ray Tenorio, Majority Whip Jesse Anderson Lujan, Lawrence Kasperbauer, Antonio R. Unpingco, Edward B. Calvo, Michael Cruz and Robert Klitzkie). The Democrats held six seats (Frank B. Aguon Jr., Lou Leon Guerrero, Adolpho Palacios, Benjamin Cruz, Judith Won Pat-Borja and Rory Respicio).

In the November 2008 legislative elections, the Democratic Party defeated the Republican Party. The Democrats held 10 seats (Speaker) Judith T. Won Pat, Vice Speaker Benjamin J. F. Cruz, Legislative Secretary Tina Muna Barnes, Majority Leader Rory J. Respicio, Judith P. Guthertz, Adolpho B. Palacios, Vicente C. Pangelinan, Thomas C. Ada, Frank B. Aguon Jr., and Matthew J. Rector. The Republicans held five seats (Minority Leader Edward B. Calvo, Ray Tenorio, Frank F. Blas Jr., James V. Espaldon, and Telo Taitague).

On January 19, 2010, Democratic Senator Matt Rector resigned from office. Former Republican candidate, Vicente Anthony "Tony" Ada, was declared the winner of the special election held to fill the vacancy resulting from the Rector resignation. He was sworn-in as Senator on March 22, 2010.

Historic Composition of the Guam Legislature[edit]

The biennial legislative terms and the years of general elections are listed in the table below, along with the number of Democratic, Republican, and Independents and Other Parties' seats in each respective legislative term.

The parties are as follows:   Democratic (D),   Popular (P),   Republican (R), and   Territorial (T).

Legislative Term Election Year Democrats Republicans Independents/Other Total Seats[2]
1st Guam Legislature 1950 0 0 21 21
2nd Guam Legislature 1952 0 0 21 21
3rd Guam Legislature 1954 0 0 21 21
4th Guam Legislature 1956 0 0 21 21
5th Guam Legislature 1958 0 0 21 21
6th Guam Legislature 1960 0 0 21 21
7th Guam Legislature 1962 0 0 21 21
8th Guam Legislature 1964 0 0 21 21
9th Guam Legislature 1966 21 0 0 21
10th Guam Legislature 1968 21 0 0 21
11th Guam Legislature 1970 15 6 0 21
12th Guam Legislature 1972 14 7 0 21
13th Guam Legislature 1974 9 12 0 21
14th Guam Legislature 1976 8 13 0 21
15th Guam Legislature 1978 7 14 0 21
16th Guam Legislature 1980 10 11 0 21
17th Guam Legislature 1982 14 7 0 21
18th Guam Legislature 1984 11 10 0 21
19th Guam Legislature 1986 13 8 0 21
20th Guam Legislature 1988 13 8 0 21
21st Guam Legislature 1990 12 9 0 21
22nd Guam Legislature 1992 13 8 0 21
23rd Guam Legislature 1994 13 8 0 21
24th Guam Legislature 1996 10 11 0 21
25th Guam Legislature 1998 3 12 0 15
26th Guam Legislature 2000 7 8 0 15
27th Guam Legislature 2002 9 6 0 15
28th Guam Legislature 2004 6 9 0 15
29th Guam Legislature 2006 7 8 0 15
Jan. 2008 8 7 0 15
30th Guam Legislature 2008 10 5 0 15
2009 9 6 0 15
31st Guam Legislature 2010 9 6 0 15
32nd Guam Legislature 2012 9 6 0 15
33rd Guam Legislature 2014 9 6 0 15
34th Guam Legislature 2016 9 6 0 15
35th Guam Legislature 2018 10 5 0 15

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.guampdn.com/story/news/2016/12/02/senators-cut-their-salaries-55000/94790106/
  2. ^ Guam Election Commission. 2016 Election Comparative Analysis Report. Hagatna, 2017.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 13°28′32.5″N 144°44′55.7″E / 13.475694°N 144.748806°E / 13.475694; 144.748806