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Record Turnout For Primary Expected…PDP SJ Mayoral Candidates Highlight Their Plans…NPP Primaries Heat Up…Governor: Fortaleza’s Doors Open To Acevedo Vila…Rodriguez Claims Support Of 15 NPP Mayors…Rossello, Pesquera Differ On Corruption Focus…Acevedo Vila: D.C. Knows About Rossello…Cintron Proposes Santini As Republican Party Leader

Rivera Schatz Expects Record Turnout For Primary

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

November 6, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

New Progressive Party (NPP) Electoral Commissioner Thomas Rivera Schatz said he hopes the number of voters in Sunday’s NPP primary election will break voter turnout records.

Rivera Schatz said the turnout for an NPP primary has never surpassed 35% of eligible voters, but this time he expects that record to fall.

"On this occasion we definitely expect a greater number [of voters] because there are races for the candidacies for governor and resident commissioner," Rivera Schatz said during a press conference Wednesday.

Sunday’s primary is the first to include a race for the gubernatorial nomination; NPP President Carlos Pesquera and former Gov. Pedro Rossello are vying for that slot.

The NPP primary candidates for resident commissioner are former Tourism Director Luis Fortuño, former Governor and Resident Commissioner Carlos Romero Barcelo, former Senate President Charlie Rodriguez, and Sen. Miriam Ramirez de Ferrer.

Even though Rivera Schatz has predicted a turnout of up to 450,000 voters, he said the State Elections Commission (SEC) is ready for many more.

"I’m prepared to receive 100% of party voters in this primary. We have printed out close to a million ballots and have enough materials to meet the totality of my party," the NPP electoral commissioner said.

In addition to discussing potential turnout, he used the occasion to urge NPP supporters to ignore pre-election opinion polls and vote on Sunday.

Rivera Schatz said that on primary day he would be working at the electoral committee office in Hato Rey, which has been used to certify primary candidates.

He said the computer equipment at the office will enable the committee to disclose results before the SEC announces the official tally. He said by 7 p.m. Sunday the committee should know the likely outcome of the races for governor and resident commissioner.

PDP San Juan Mayoral Candidates Highlight Their Plans

By Proviana Colon Diaz – WOW News editor

November 5, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

While one candidate visualizes a major change in San Juan’s municipal administrative structure, the other prefers to concentrate on infrastructure development, arguing that no major development has occurred in the island’s capital, his hometown, in 20 years.

With different views but the same Popular Democratic Party (PDP) political ideology, former Sen. Eduardo Bhatia and Sen. Roberto Vigoreaux are opponents in Sunday’s primary race for mayor of San Juan.

Bhatia is no newcomer to this process; he defeated other PDP candidates in the 1999 primary for San Juan mayor before losing the general election to Jorge Santini.

Likewise, Vigoreaux has participated in primaries: for a House post and an at-large Senate post. He won both primaries and, later, the general elections.

On Sunday, however, they will face each other.

In recent separate interviews with WOW News staff, the candidates presented their plans should they become the mayor of San Juan.

Bhatia sees San Juan’s government as a facilitator because, in his opinion, the municipal administration of San Juan doesn’t work as a governmental structure. He said he believes the 8,000-employee structure should be turned upside down, making the municipality a facilitator and citizens the priority.

"The municipal government has to be a facilitator and not an obstacle," he said.

While careful to state that he wouldn’t leave municipal employees without jobs, Bhatia said there is no need, for example, for the municipal tower to be in the middle of the banking district; he thinks it should be in Rio Piedras.

He acknowledged that San Juan would never be the capital of manufacturing but rather should enjoy its status as the center of retail. Bhatia said he believes in small businesses and private investors and would do all he can to help them.

For his part, Vigoreaux has big plans for Urban Train stations. The 12 Urban Train stations in San Juan would be the backbone of his master plan for the development of the capital.

The municipality would help to build citadels at each of the 12 Urban Train stations. The objective of the citadels would be to give citizens greater use of the city and increase interaction between San Juan residents and commuters.

Vigoreaux said the citadels would improve the quality of life in San Juan; lead to an increase in the municipality’s population, which has decreased over the past two decades; generate income for the municipality; and reduce the crime rate through increased surveillance.

He presented his master plan during a recent interview at Casiano Communications. He played a DVD showing the Piñero station, at the San Juan Judicial Center in Hato Rey, as the model for the citadels.

The development of the citadels would be a joint investment between the municipality and a private contractor. According to the model for the Piñero station, the developer would invest $55.1 million and the municipality $2.7 million. Vigoreaux noted, however, that the municipality would serve as guarantor through the Capital Investment Bank.

As the election approaches, it should be noted that Bhatia was the big surprise of the 2000 general elections; he lost the San Juan mayoralty by only 3,000 votes, a narrower margin than had been predicted.

Some say then-Mayor Sila Calderon’s refusal to campaign alongside Bhatia cost him the election. Nevertheless, Bhatia continued as head of the PDP in San Juan—that is, until Gov. Calderon gathered San Juan precinct leaders and urged Bhatia to quit to allow for reorganization. In a matter of hours, precinct leaders who had once supported Bhatia turned their backs on him, and Sen. Eudaldo Baez Galib was appointed to head the party in San Juan.

Earlier this year, Bhatia announced his intention to run for the Senate. After Calderon announced her decision not to seek re-election, Jose Alfredo Hernandez Mayoral dropped his candidacy for the governorship, and Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila became the party’s gubernatorial candidate and president, Acevedo Vila approached Bhatia and persuaded him to run against Vigoreaux.

Although Vigoreaux, a former television presenter, singer, and representative was the first to announce his intention to run for mayor, the PDP did all it could to find a contender, approaching House Vice Speaker Ferdinand Perez, Sen. Jose Ortiz Daliot, Acevedo Vila, and Bhatia. Only Bhatia agreed.

Vigoreaux said he believes his electoral record—he got the most votes for an at-large seat in the House and came in second for an at-large Senate seat—guarantees him victory over Bhatia.

NPP Primaries Heat Up

By Proviana Colon Diaz – WOW News Editor

November 4, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

As Sunday’s primary approaches, the debate in the historic gubernatorial primary in the New Progressive Party (NPP) continues to grow.

While NPP President Carlos Pesquera’s campaign manager, Edwin Mundo, insists on inviting all those who wish to vote for his candidate to join the party Sunday, the campaign team of his contender, former Gov. Pedro Rossello, warns that they will challenge the votes of people believed not to be NPP members.

On Tuesday, Mundo again invited Popular Democratic Party (PDP) followers and non-affiliated voters who wish to vote for Pesquera to do so Sunday.

As approved by the NPP, anyone who wishes to participate in Sunday’s primary must be an affiliate member of the party. If they are not affiliate members, they will have to join before casting their votes.

And as Mundo made the invitation again, insisting that no one can prevent a certified voter from casting a vote, Rossello’s campaign team member, Leo Diaz, noted that they will challenge the vote of anyone believed not to be a NPP member.

"People know each other. If someone who is known to be a PDP member goes to the registration table and asks for an affiliation form, he will be given a form, but that vote will be challenged," Diaz said.

Acknowledging that challenging a vote is within the Electoral Law, Mundo noted that such action does not mean that the votes will not later be accounted for. Moreover, he said challenge votes are only counted when the votes in question are needed, that is when the race is so tight that the votes might make the difference.

But Mundo believes that the real intention behind the announcement of Rossello’s team that they will challenge votes is but a mere threat so that NPP followers who are not necessarily active in politics think twice about voting Sunday.

"They know that an open primary means a more divided result, therefore they only want to attract the core of the party," Mundo said.

Meanwhile, both teams expect a great turnout in their campaign closings, to be held Friday.

Both campaign managers also attacked the contender’s campaign Tuesday.

Rossello’s campaign director, Frances Rodriguez, said their campaign closing, which will be held at the Pedrin Zorrilla Coliseum could not be compared with that of Pesquera, which would take place "in front of a pub."

Mundo said he has participated in more than one campaign closing, saying "Rodriguez has not done a single campaign closing," and noted that even if the ground of the Pedrin Zorrilla is larger, the Rossello team could close the area to give the impression that more people attended.

Governor: Acevedo Vila Has Open Doors At Fortaleza

November 4, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN GERMÁN (AP) – Gov. Sila Calderon again criticized Tuesday the attitude of Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila during a brief meeting that both had Monday, but she assured that the "doors of La Fortaleza are always open" for him.

"Despite the way the resident commissioner conducted the meeting and his statements later, I want to say that the doors of La Fortaleza are always, always, open for Acevedo Vila. They will be open with much sincerity and affection," said the governor during a run through San German.

After a meeting of less than 40 minutes at La Fortaleza on Monday, Acevedo Vila said "no one and nothing" will halt his run for governor, and he refused to answer if he prefers Calderon to accompany him in the campaign.

The distancing between the two highest government officials, which presented themselves as a team in the 2000 elections, was aggravated in September when Acevedo Vila obtained the Senate’s support to deny the nomination of Secretary of State Ferdinand Mercado as chief justice of the Supreme Court.

"I will do it when it is ready," said Calderon, when asked when she will make the next nomination to the vacancy in the Supreme Court.

The governor, however, said Tuesday that "what is important is harmony and unity."

She said she expects "our party and our candidate to prevail in 2004."

"There is nothing that I want more than the Popular Democratic Party to win the elections of 2004," she added.

But when she was asked how she would contribute to Acevedo Vila’s campaign, Calderon acknowledged that "right now, I don’t know."

Rodriguez Claims To Have The Support Of 15 NPP Mayors

November 4, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – New Progressive Party (NPP) resident commissioner primary candidate Charlie Rodriguez said Monday that 15 out of 33 NPP mayors endorse his candidacy.

Rodriguez made the announcement at a press conference at which he was joined by the mayors of Orocovis, Moca, Camuy, and Corozal.

He thanked the mayors for their endorsements and said his candidacy represents one of unity and consensus.

One of Rodriguez’s opponents in the primary, Luis Fortuño, said in recent days that he has the endorsement of half of the NPP mayors island-wide.

When asked however to mention them, he cited only the names of the mayors of Bayamon, Hatillo, and Manati.

Rossello And Pesquera With Different Focus On Corruption

By Sandra Ivelisse Villerrael of Associated Press

November 2, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN - The theme of corruption which has been following the two pre-gubernatorial candidates of the New Progressive Party (NPP) since the past general election looks like a priority to both NPP President Carlos Pesquera and former Gov. Pedro Rossello.

However, their primary proposals to achieve a pro-statehood government clean of frauds and misuse of public funds are different.

Following the experience of having 20 of his government aides convicted of felonies, Rossello has promised to be more aggressive in the detection of rotten apples in his administration should he become governor for the third time in 2004.

He also proposed to forbid cabinet members from raising funds for political parties and to separate the party's presidential post from that of gubernatorial candidate.

Meanwhile, Pesquera, who was Rossello's protégé in the 2000 general election, believes he should concentrate efforts to educate government officials against corruption and post government transactions on the Internet.

He also opposes receiving donations from private entities for official government event.

Pesquera has called for a halt in the use of public money to place government ads and celebrate the Fourth of July and the anniversary of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Acevedo Vila: Washington Knows About Rossello’s ‘Chaos’

November 1, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Popular Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila said Saturday that the support that he has obtained from federal congress members for his nomination demonstrates that Washington knows about the "bad administration" of former Gov. Pedro Rossello, who is running for a third term.

"Washington’s Congress, White House, and executive branch know that under the government of Rossello corruption prevailed. They also know that under this administration, extraordinary efforts have been made to clean the good name of Puerto Rico," Acevedo Vila, who is also resident commissioner, said in a press release.

Acevedo Vila assured that his candidacy has the support of U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and U.S. Reps. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas), Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), and David Wu (D-Ore.). According to the resident commissioner, 20 other congress members who he did not name also support him.

"This support is the best evidence that my work in Washington and for Puerto Rico has been effective, efficient, and in the correct direction," Acevedo Vila said.

"Let’s not forget that Kennedy at one time supported Rossello and compared him to [former Gov.] Luis Muñoz Marin. It is obvious that his support for my candidacy to be the next governor of all Puerto Ricans is an acknowledgement that Rossello does not represent anything good for Puerto Rico," he added.

As part of his campaign, Acevedo Vila will travel Sunday to several municipalities in the west zone, leaving from Isabela and finishing in Rincon after passing through Aguadilla, Aguada, and Añasco, according to the PDP.

Cintron Proposes Santini As Republican Party Leader

October 31, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The interim president of the Republican Party in Puerto Rico, former Rep. Angel Cintron, proposed Friday that San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini preside over the party and Luis Fortuño remain as the national delegate.

In a press conference at Puerta de Tierra, Cintron said he has not consulted Santini or Fortuño about his proposal to fill the party presidency, which was left vacant by the death of former Gov. Luis A. Ferre, who died Oct. 21.

"Without a doubt, the ideal person for this post is Santini," said Cintron, who is now in private practice as a lawyer.

Cintron said he decided to intervene in the matter after "seeing an unnecessary controversy accumulating these days."

Santini, Fortuño, and Sen. Miriam Ramirez have expressed interest in the post, but the six mayors and a dozen New Progressive Party leaders of the eastern zone announced their support for Santini on Wednesday.

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