Guaynabo Mayoral Campaign Intensifies
Editor’s note: The following article originally appeared in the July 27 print edition of Caribbean Business.
SAN JUAN — A little more than a week before the New Progressive Party’s (NPP) special elections to fill the vacancy in the Guaynabo mayor’s office, the race between Sen. Carmelo Ríos and former Rep. Ángel Pérez is inching closer and both candidates are focusing on getting supporters to the polls.
To be victorious in the Aug. 5 election, Ríos is intent on capturing the more than 13,000 people who voted in favor of former Guaynabo Mayor Héctor O’Neill during the past NPP primary, while Pérez is hoping to preserve the 4,400 people who voted for him in the past election and expand his supporter base.
“We are going to have about 360 polling center officials. All the people who were affiliated with the NPP in the June 5, 2016 primaries or who have worked in the past as NPP polling center officials may participate in the election. In the 2016 Guaynabo primary, 18,000 people voted, but according to the NPP’s historical record, in Guaynabo there are about 35,000 affiliated voters,” said NPP Secretary-General Rafael Rivera Ortega. In the June 2016 primary, O’Neill won with 13,556 votes, whereas Pérez obtained 4,403 votes.
After serving as Guaynabo’s mayor for 24 years, O’Neill resigned from his post in June, from which he had been suspended by the Office of the Special Independent Prosecutor’s Panel, in light of a criminal investigation against him.
Caribbean Business recently interviewed both Guaynabo mayoral candidates, inquiring about their goals during the final stretch of the race, and both agreed they would continue pushing for votes.
“I will continue to visit my people from Guaynabo, taking the message of my commitment to them and my town, letting them know about my genuine desire to serve as their next mayor.
I will continue to focus on making my plans known to all communities in Guaynabo. I will also continue to seek [municipal] employees’ confidence so they allow me to be, more than their mayor, their co-worker, and that together, we will implement our governance plan, which reflects my vision of Guaynabo as we head into the future,” Ríos said.
Pérez, on the other hand, said his approach adheres to a set plan that includes walking through neighborhoods, social gatherings and meetings with various Guaynabo groups to tell voters that it is time for change in that city.
“I am confident we will get the majority of votes on Aug. 5 and that I will be the next mayor of Guaynabo. This is a completely different race because there is no former mayor on the ballot. I set off with a base of about 5,000 votes and we have already seen a large movement of [municipal] employees and sectors supporting my candidacy,” Pérez said.
A few weeks ago, Rep. Antonio “Tony” Soto, who had previously expressed an interest in filling O’Neill’s vacancy, decided to publicly endorse Pérez for the post.
Soto said Pérez is the best mayoral candidate for Guaynabo and mentioned he will work from the House, along with the candidate, to support Guaynabo’s causes.
“What do you think about Tony Soto’s support of Ángel Pérez?” Caribbean Business asked Ríos, who is endorsed by Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz.
“In terms of support, I have to say that the most important endorsement is the one by the people of Guaynabo, and they prove it to me every day,” he replied.