Torres sets polls for vacant House seat on March 23
Candidates who wish to run in the upcoming special elections can now submit their nominating petition and other documents after Gov. Ralph DLG Torres already declared a date for the election to fill the vacant Precinct 3 seat left by the untimely passing of former representative Francisco S. Dela Cruz.
Torres, in a proclamation yesterday, set the special election on March 23, a Saturday. The proclamation is in accordance to Article II Section 9 of the CNMI Constitution, which states that “a vacancy in the Legislature shall be filled by special election if one half or more of the term remains.”
Dela Cruz, who was elected for another term in the 21st Legislature after the Nov. 13, 2018 elections, died last Jan. 6—a week before the first organizational session of the House on Jan. 14. House Speaker Blas Jonathan T. Attao (R-Saipan) notified Torres that a vacancy exists that’s why a special election is needed.
He placed fifth to earn one of the six seats allotted for Precinct 3 joining independent Rep. Edmund S. Villagomez, and fellow GOP lawmakers Rep. Ivan A. Blanco, House Speaker Blas Jonathan T. Attao, Rep. Ralph N. Yumul, and Rep. Jose I. Itibus.
“The term remaining in the vacant seat is greater than one half of the two-year term and thus must be filled by a special election. I do hereby proclaim and call for a special election to be held for the purpose of electing an individual to fill the vacant seat existing in the House of Representatives for the Third Senatorial District (Precinct 3),” as stated in the proclamation.
The Commonwealth Election Commission had already put out a request for absentee ballots yesterday, which was also the first day of the submission of nominating petitions of candidates and other required documents.
Former representative Donald C. Barcinas, who placed seventh among 12 candidates, said he will be running again for his previous seat when he was still part of the GOP supermajority in the 20th Legislature. He bolted the local Republican Party because of his different view on Public Law 20-66, which authorized the regulation and control of marijuana use in the Commonwealth.
It is not yet known if the other five losing candidates—independents Vicente C. Camacho, Mariano DLG Fajardo, David C. Sablan, Luis S. Tilipao, and former representative Stanley Torres would again file their respective certificates of candidacies.
The CNMI Republican Party has also began organizing themselves with the board of directors asking their members who want to run to submit their letter of intent to Precinct III club chair Joaquin Ogumoro.
“For now, we’re asking for letters of intent from anyone who wanted to run for the vacant seat. We don’t know yet who are those aspiring and how many are they until we receive their letter,” Ogumoro told Saipan Tribune in a telephone interview yesterday.
He added that the Republican Party leadership will then choose who would be the best candidate among those who submitted their letters that could win Dela Cruz’s vacant seat.
The other important dates for the special election are the following:
-Feb 8: The last day for submission of the nominating petitions;
-Feb. 20: CEC’s last day to act on nominating petitions;
-Feb. 26: Last day for absentee voting application;
-March 8: Designation of polling places;
-March 16: Posting/distribution of specimen ballots and start of early voting;
-March 22: Last day for early voting;
-April 7: Removal of campaign materials; and
-May 12: Disclosure of campaign financial reports.