Independent legislators Joseph Deleon Guerrero and Antonio Sablan as well as former vice speaker Francisco Dela Cruz will be running under the Republican Party of the Northern Mariana Islands Association in the upcoming elections.
Deleon Guerrero is the current House vice speaker of the 19th Legislature, Sablan is the chair of the powerful Ways & Means committee, while Dela Cruz was the vice speaker of the 18th Legislature.
Deleon Guerrero is running in Precinct 1 together with Sablan, fellow re-electionists Reps. Angel Demapan (R-Saipan) and Joseph Lee Pan Guerrero (R-Saipan), returning Janet U. Maratita, and Veterans Affairs Office director Gregorio Sablan Jr.
Dela Cruz is one of the four GOP candidates for Precinct 3 along with press secretary and GOP spokesperson Ivan Blanco, Donald Barcinas, and Joe Itibus.
Deleon Guerrero said that he was just going back to his roots since he started his political career under the Republican Party. “Even when I was an independent, I’ve been working with the Republicans in the Legislature and the administration in supporting their programs.”
He added that the local GOP, chaired by Department of Public Works Secretary James Ada, have been asking him to join the party since the last election. “But I told that I wanted to stay as an independent for the meantime. And they respected my decision. They asked me again for this election and this time I agreed.”
If reelected for an eighth term, Deleon Guerrero said that his priorities would be the war on ice, education, regulating the casino industry, and finding solutions in government agencies that have been hounded by problems.”
“One of the issues that we must prioritize is the war on ice. Education also must be on top. We must also make sure in regulating the new industry and making sure all protections are in place. And to continue to find solutions in problem areas like the [Commonwealth Utilities Corp.] and the hospital,” added Deleon Guerrero.
“Things are also looking better. We’re now in the position to even help raise the salaries of our government employees that’s been frozen for more than 10 years. There are things that we can do now. We also have the resources to ensure that there’s enough funding to have the pensioners continue to get paid.”
Sablan is also a returning Republican. “I consider myself a lifetime Republican, since I got back in college I was already involved in party activities. I ran as a Republican for the first time and won but I ran as an independent in my reelection and the last election.”
“I’ve been contemplating a lot going back to the party since the last election but I feel this is the right time to join again. The party and the leadership is back in order,” he added.
Sablan said that he would focus more on the economy and will do his share in helping steer the CNMI to the right direction. “We’ve been satisfied with what the current administration is doing, from the time of the late governor Eloy S. Inos to the present.”
“But there’s so much more to do. The revenues are up, that’s why we must put together a leadership in January that will not change the current economic policies. We want to make sure we continue to move the economy forward and strengthen it further.”
“We want to continue to work on what we started and we want to make sure we continue the economic progress. We can’t change direction right now,” added Sablan, who was glad to get the full support of the party.
Dela Cruz, on the other hand, said he wants to focus more on housing and also to solve the Commonwealth Utilities Corp.’s problems if elected. “At this point in time, there are a lot of things that need to work on. Tourist arrivals are up, a sign that the economy is picking up.”
“But we have an issue on housing and I plan to work on that. I already discussed it briefly with the governor and he was very receptive to the idea. I also have some ideas on how to help in finding solutions to CUC’s problems.”
“We want CUC to fix the leaks and the old pipes, that should be the priority. If we can bring down the 60 to 70 leak percentage down to less than 10, then I believe, we can start talking about bringing in the oral system.”