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Jennifer Gonzalez To Replace Misla Aldarondo

Pesquera: Sunday's Election Started Party's Reformation

Ferre Rejects Proposal To Eliminate NPP

Jennifer Gonzalez To Replace Misla Aldarondo

By Proviana Colon Diaz

February 25, 2002
Copyright © 2002
PRWOW News Service. All Rights Reserved. 

Rookie politician and soon-to-be law student Jennifer Gonzalez, 25, became on Sunday the new member of the House of Representatives as she was elected by an overwhelming majority over the seven other candidates to fill in the New Progressive Party (NPP) post at the San Juan Precinct 4.

"Thanks to my neighbors of Precinct 4, who understood the message of renovation and change," said an enthusiastic Gonzalez.

Her priorities will include legislation in favor of elderly people, who comprise most of the precinct's population.

The elected legislator said she will work to better prosecute and investigate the duties of the Popular Democratic Party majority at the Legislature and to achieve statehood for the island.

Gonzalez, who campaigned if favor of the permanent presence of the U.S. Navy in Vieques and the use of live ammunition during military practices there, reaffirmed her position on the controversial subject on Sunday.

"I have always said the Navy should stay in Vieques. The issue of Vieques is for the separatists," Gonzalez said.

Although this is Gonzalez's first incursion in the world of politics, the NPP has long been a part of her life, as her aunt is former House Speaker Zaida "Cucusa" Hernandez Torres.

Also competing against Gonzalez were attorney Julio Francisco Fernandez, former Corrections Administrator Johnny Colon, San Juan Municipality Assemblyman Roberto Acevedo, attorney Victor Pares, former legislator Julio Lebron, airline employee Virgilio Melendez, and homemaker Yiya de Jesus.

Out of the 4,234 votes issued during Sunday's election, Gonzalez obtained 1,327 or 31.3%.

Lebron, who received 638 votes, or 15.1%, obtained a distant second place; Acevedo received 598 votes or 14.1%; Pares got 539 votes or 12.7%, Melendez obtained 454 votes or 10%, Fernandez got 210 votes or 5%, Colon 127 or 3%, and De Jesus received 40 votes or 0.9%.

The group was seeking to fill in the San Juan precinct 4 chair left vacant by former NPP Rep. Edison Misla Aldarondo, who quit his post following accusations in federal court for money laundering and witness tampering, among other charges.

Sunday's election was also a historic one, in the sense that it was the first time that the computerized voting system was used. It was also the first electoral process without former State Elections Commission President Juan R. Melecio, who quit early this year after a noble tenure in office.

Gonzalez already has been assigned some responsibilities, as NPP Minority Leader Rep. Anibal Vega Borges said he would appoint the new representative to the House Treasury Committee.

Pesquera: Sunday's Election Started Party's Reformation

By Proviana Colon Diaz

February 25, 2002
Copyright © 2002
PRWOW News Service. All Rights Reserved. 

New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera said Sunday's election is the beginning of the collectivity's reformation and reorganization.

Pesquera thanked all the candidates who voluntarily ran for the post and viewed the election of the young candidate as "that precise spirit of renovation."

"This represents the best of our collectivity. The youth is that precise spirit of renovation. We want major youth participation," Pesquera said.

The party's renovation will include more participation from the youth, and "space" for new faces will be granted, Pesquera said.

Jennifer Gonzalez, 25, was elected by 34% of voters who favored the rookie politician over veteran figures of the party, such as former legislator Julio Lebron.

Pesquera said Gonzalez's election was a message of such renovation.

"It's a clear message, that given the opportunity, this party will be renovated," Pesquera said.

Ironically, Gonzalez chose to go to San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini's headquarters in Hato Rey following the election, instead of going to the party's headquarters to meet Pesquera.

She arrived at the NPP headquarters past 5 p.m., along with Sen. Miriam Ramirez de Ferrer, and said she chose to go first to Santini's headquarters because the party is an organized one, and she went from a caravan around the precinct, to the municipal headquarters, and to the state headquarters.

In recent months, the NPP has been on shaky ground following accusations in federal court for money laundering and a fraud scheme against prominent party figures. Such figures include former legislator Freddy Valentin and former Education Secretary Victor Fajardo.

The accusations are also the source of Sunday's election as former legislator Edison Misla Aldarondo quit his post after being indicted in federal court on charges of fraud, money laundering, and witness tampering, among others.

Pesquera, however, has repeatedly said such cases represent only the wrongdoings of individuals and in no way represent the collectivity. He repeated his statement Sunday.

"Corruption is an issue of individuals not of the collectivity," Pesquera said.

The defeated gubernatorial candidate also declined to accept that Sunday's poor electoral participation is a reflection of the frustration of NPP members with the collectivity.

Sunday's participation, which only reached 20%, according to Pesquera, is similar to that of San Juan mayor election primaries, and in that sense, he was satisfied with the participation.

Party founder Luis A. Ferre, for his part, said Gonzalez's pro-U.S. Navy position was what got her elected.

Gonzalez campaigned in favor of the permanent presence of the Navy in Vieques and the use of live ammunition.

Ferre Rejects Proposal To Eliminate NPP

By The Associated Press

February 25, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - New Progressive Party (NPP) founder Luis A. Ferre said the collectivity is being administered a "purgative" to "clean" the party, and it will be a "loss of time" to propose that it should be eliminated.

"That is loosing our time. We already have the necessary parties to lead the island's destiny. What we have to do is clean them. We are in the process of cleaning them right now, because we are giving them a purgative," the former governor said.

Ferre said in published reports that this "purgative" will have to be applied to the Popular Democratic Party and the Puerto Rican Independence Party as well.

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