Independent Gubernatorial Candidate Lúgaro Unveils Government Reforms
SAN JUAN – Alexandra Lúgaro, age 34, is a lawyer and entrepreneur in the field of education, based in San Juan, and is running as an independent candidate for governor in the Nov. 8 general elections.
The daughter of a private entrepreneur also linked to the country’s education, Lúgaro said her passion is education and that she spends much of her political discourse on this issue because she believes that “without education or justice, there is no country.”
The March 17, 2015, announcement of her candidacy initially generated disbelief, surprise and skepticism among many because she was not known for political activism before she stated her intention to seek an independent candidacy for governor for the 2016 general elections, which went against the grain of traditional partisan efforts.
Besides the other independent candidate for governor—bakery entrepreneur Manuel Cidre—those seeking the gubernatorial candidacy from Puerto Rico’s registered parties include dentist David Bernier for the Popular Democratic Party (PDP); lawyer and legislator María de Lourdes Santiago for the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP); university professor Rafael Bernabe for the Working People’s Party (WPP); and whomever is elected as candidate for governor from the New Progressive Party’s (NPP) primaries on June 5, between scientist Ricardo Rosselló and attorney and P.R. Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi.
In contrast to other candidacies, Lúgaro’s transmits certain freshness in a harsh political atmosphere, which allows her to very calmly make her proposals outside of the party politics that ordinarily result in scandals when they are not concerns and suspicions. With enthusiasm, she expresses that she hopes to strengthen her presence on the Web, where she says she has more than 250 followers.
That is why she says that if elected governor, she would not reside in Santa Catalina Palace, known as La Fortaleza, in Old San Juan because it is a building that would better serve as a museum and not as an official residence because of its maintenance costs.
“In moments when there is no money in public coffers, it does not make sense at all,” she said.
Lúgaro, who presents her solid academic formation in the legal, administrative and financial fields, also believes that due to the government’s critical fiscal situation, the island’s 78 municipalities should be reduced to eight regions that would operate administratively as large municipalities.
She would also reduce from four to two years the terms for legislators, and would increase from for four to six years the term for governor with a recall mechanism through which voters can remove the governor from office if he or she does not make the grade.
In addition, she would promote complete educational reform, with teachers and students at its center, as well as simplify the overall educational system.
She said that due to the government’s fiscal crisis, the electronic vote count—to be implemented in the general primaries and in the following general elections in November—would no longer happen.
“The Dominion company, which is in charge of the electronic vote count, is doing everything possible to rescind its contract with the State Elections Commission because the company isn’t getting paid,” she said.
As an independent candidate, Lúgaro does not have running-mate candidates for resident commissioner, the House of Representatives or the Senate, or for mayors of the island’s municipalities.
“I aspire to steer the country with people of all parties, the best people. I want to lead a government team with the best people of the political parties, outside of the parties,” she said.
The elections & the CEE
She does not count on traditional electoral-political structures because she believes that to achieve the endorsements needed for her candidacy (some 26,903 signatures), she had to have the support of about 1,000 people, who voluntarily joined to work with her and reached that goal.
“For my campaign, I rely on hundreds of people on a voluntary level, and we are already working to have 30,000 voting center functionaries who will be on post at all of the 7,555 voting centers since we are not going to count on the electronic vote count system, because it will not exist, and there is no money to pay for it,” she said.
She is concerned about the State Elections Commission (CEE by its Spanish initials) staging the general primaries June 5 and the general elections Nov. 8 because she does not see where the needed funds to cover their costs have been identified.
Lúgaro is sure her candidacy responds to a need in Puerto Rico to have candidates from outside of the traditional political parties, who break from the existing party politics, besides needing to have people who are experienced in finance, economy and law.
“In my case, I have knowledge about the educational system’s framework,” she said.
Her decision to aspire as an independent candidate also responds to the impossibility of working with the existing educational and justice systems because “the government does not make decisions for fear of losing votes or makes them a function of the votes they would yield, without taking into account the effectiveness of the decisions that are adopted,” she said.
She added that her decision to also to give the island an efficient government that can provide continuity to the efforts that are implemented, both in the short and the long run.
She feels confident the independent governor she is proposing will be able to direct functionaries from all other parties in projects that are coherent and viable with the few resources left for Puerto Rico.
Lack of continuity
Regarding the current public administration, she believes the greatest problem it faces is a lack of continuity that results from party politics, or “partidocracy,” where every four years the party in office is changed and the new party comes in to destroy all that the previous party had achieved, initiating new projects, sacking all functionaries from the former party in charge and replacing them with their members, compounded by the fact that the practice of the merit system has been eliminated from public service, where political positions are scaled according to the criteria of party politics. Her government proposal is based on three fundamental pillars: government system reform, economic development and education.
“I do not pretend that I can fix Puerto Rico in four years, but I can take some forward steps to improve the country’s critical situation, supported by the three main points in my government proposal,” she said.
Name: Alexandra Lúgaro
Date of birth: June 10, 1981, San Juan
Political party affiliation: Independent gubernatorial candidate
Alma mater: University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras campus, Bachelor’s degree in finance, marketing & economics (2002); Juris Doctor, UPR Law School (2005); Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Masters of Law, (2014), Ph.D. in finance and taxation law (2016)
Has managed several entities from which she has led science-based educational initiatives in Puerto Rico, improving the academic achievement of thousands of students in more than 5,000 schools on the island. As a criminal lawyer, she has represented more than 100 pro bono clients.