19 Mar 2018
- By Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa – [email protected] – Variety News Staff
FLORINE Hofschneider, a Board of Education member representing Tinian, is opposed to Senate Bill 20-79.
Introduced by Senate Floor Leader Frank Borja, the proposed measure would allow the governor to appoint, with the consent of the Senate, an individual when there is a vacancy in the mayor’s office and less than half of the term remains.
In her written comment which she submitted to lawmakers in her personal capacity, Hofschneider said the bill “disregards” the people’s wishes. “Because this is a CNMI bill, all municipalities will be affected.”
She said as far as Tinian is concerned, “the bill proposes to dump the wishes of…almost one half of the voters in the 2014 election, the remaining 48 percent [or] 696 voters.”
She was referring to the number of votes cast for former Mayor Ramon Dela Cruz who lost by seven votes to the incumbent mayor, Joey Patrick San Nicolas, in the 2014 elections.
“That right to choose our leaders should be as the law currently states: that the unsuccessful candidate from that election be elevated as mayor [if there is a vacancy]. Only in doing so would the wishes of the remaining voters be heard and the basic right of the people to vote will be protected and respected. These voters have spoken in the last election as to who they wish to represent them as mayor for Tinian. The governor and the senators from Saipan and Rota did not participate in this Tinian election…. It was the people of Tinian who voted and spoke and the current law protects our voters by mandating that should the current elected leader is unable to finish the term, then the next highest vote getter will fill the remaining term,” Hofschneider said.
She said the bill raises so many questions and is “quite apparent in its motivation.”
“Tinian, just like any other CNMI communities, is filled with rumors. The rumor mill escalates especially when election year gets closer. There is information commonly known in Tinian that Mayor J.P. San Nicolas has been offered the position of a judge if he resigns…. [Under] the current law, this means that the opposition, the former Mayor Ramon Dela Cruz, will serve the remaining term.”
Hofschneider added, “To avoid this and keep political power intact, Senator Borja and his fellow followers have concocted an idea of amending Public Law 4-23 through SB 20-79 to ensure that their candidate for election 2018 will be the mayor for the remaining term.”
She said the governor should appoint Rep. Edwin Aldan in case San Nicolas resigns “as this will give Aldan the opportunity to use all the resources when he runs for mayor in November.”
Hofschneider said even if these rumors are not true, “the fact will remain that…S.B.20-79 usurps the people’s right to elect their leaders by replacing those 696 voters that elected the unsuccessful candidate and extinguishing that right in favor of the governor and the senators from the other senatorial districts to determine who should lead the people of Tinian…. Laws are changed when it suits a few. It does not speak well at any level for us as a people.”
In a phone interview, Mayor Joey Patrick San Nicolas denied he had plans to resign, saying he will complete his term which ends in Jan. 2019.
The House Judiciary and Governmental Operations will conduct public hearings on the three main islands regarding the bill which has already been passed by the Senate.
Rep. John Paul Sablan, the committee’s acting chairman, said the panel will conduct public hearings on the bill starting in April.
Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/102991-tinian-resident-no-to-borja-bill