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THE ORLANDO SENTINEL
3 Parties Agree On Elected Fill-In
by Ivan Roman
January 30, 2000
Copyright © 2000 THE ORLANDO SENTINEL. All Rights Reserved.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Kidney stones, of all things, might
give life to Puerto Rico's first constitutional amendment in 20
Senate representatives of all three of the island's political
parties are drafting a resolution to ask voters to amend the Constitution
and create the elected position of vice governor. Given the unusual
consensus across party lines, legislators hope the matter can
be studied quickly and presented to voters in time for November's
On Jan. 14, Gov. Pedro Rossello underwent successful surgery
to remove kidney stones. An interim governor never was named,
and he insisted on working from his hospital bed.
But the unlikely possibility that he could have died on the
operating table had some worrying whether Puerto Rico might face
a constitutional crisis. When the governor is out of Puerto Rico,
the Secretary of State and then the Justice Secretary, both appointed
positions, become interim governors.
"Any lover of democracy has to reject the notion that
the person who succeeds the governor be appointed and not elected,"
Senate President Charlie Rodriguez said. "Whoever replaces
the governor should have passed the crucible of the electorate."
A similar consensus gelled in the House of Representatives,
and all agree the candidates for vice governor need to be paired
with their respective party's gubernatorial candidate as running
Rep. Angel Cintron, House majority whip, said he doubts it
can be worked out by the end of the legislative session in June
in time to get the constitutional amendment on the November ballot.
Legislators still must discuss how candidates would be nominated
and what the job would entail.