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Apatang weighs in on mayoral bill

SAIPAN Mayor David M. Apatang said  Senate Bill 20-79, which proposes to authorize the governor to appoint a qualified individual in the event the mayoral position is vacated or vacant, will have a significant impact on the offices of the mayors if enacted into law.

Apatang was one of two persons who appeared at a public hearing on Tuesday conducted by the House Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations at the multi-purpose center.

Introduced by Senate Floor Leader Frank Borja, S.B. 20-79 has been passed by the Senate and is now with the House committee.

David Mundo ApatangDavid Mundo Apatang

Besides Apatang, Election Commission Executive Director Julita Villagomez was the only other person who submitted testimony.

Apatang said he  supported the intent of the bill, but he asked the committee to consider the possible consequences that might not be in line with the bill’s intent.

Current law states that in case of a vacancy, the governor is to appoint the candidate who ran for mayor in the previous election who received the second largest number of votes and is still willing to serve.

“Because we are living and breathing human beings and must constantly adapt to the circumstances which confront us, the bill is an example of a circumstance that potentially could affect us or future mayors,” Apatang said.

“Simplifying the process of filling a mayoral vacancy when it arises is quite a sensitive subject, especially since the mayors are politically affiliated,” he added.

He also said that if the bill becomes law, a prolonged selection and confirmation process is most likely to occur. This, he added, could result in a stalled process.

Apatang said the bill, in its current form, does not provide an assurance of the status quo.

He noted that the bill was introduced after the mayor of the Northern Islands died and his opponent, after being sworn in as the new mayor, removed all the employees hired by his predecessor.

“We do not know whether the bill will be effective in saving employees of a deceased mayor when a new one takes office, even if the new mayor is of the same political party as the former one,” Apatang said. “There is no assurance that the new mayor will decide to staff his or her office with the people the former mayor hired or that the incident related to the former late mayor of the Northern Islands will not be repeated.”

For her part, Villagomez said she will support the decision made by the committee and the Legislature.

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/104523-apatang-weighs-in-on-mayoral-bill

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