NPP Presses O’Neill to Resign as Guaynabo Mayor
SAN JUAN — New Progressive Party (NPP) Secretary-General Rafael “June” Rivera on Wednesday applauded the suspension of Guaynabo Mayor Héctor O’Neill for possible administrative violations, and reiterated the municipal leader should resign from his post altogether.
“The Special Independent Prosecutor Panel’s [PFEI by its Spanish acronym] decision to suspend the work of Guaynabo Mayor Héctor O’Neill for multiple violations of the Penal Code, including Act 54 [of Domestic Violence], was not only the right determination, but was also foreseeable,” Rivera said in a written statement.
The NPP secretary-general, who is also a P.R. House representative, stressed: “This situation should not have escalated to this point,” and could have been prevented if O’Neill had resigned Guaynabo’s mayorship.
“O’Neill should have placed his family, his people and his party first, and resign from the first moment Gov. Ricardo Rosselló requested his dismissal. Now, it is up to the PFEI to continue the investigation, while we in the NPP reaffirm our call for Héctor O’Neill to officially resign as mayor,” he said.
Rivera maintains that O’Neill “still has time to do the right thing.”
PFEI Chairwoman Nydia Cotto Vives announced the mayor’s suspension in a press release today. Her office ordered O’Neill to “immediately” abandon municipal installations and to hand over all municipal property in his possession, including cars, phones, computers, credit cards, gas cards, documents, files, among others.
Guaynabo Vice Mayor Aurialis Lozada Centeno was granted until 4 p.m. tomorrow, Thursday, to certify to the PFEI that O’Neill had delivered all municipal property.
If O’Neill resigns and leaves a vacancy in the mayor’s office, protocol establishes that the NPP will have up to 60 days to hold primaries among its voters to select a new mayor.
The process requires the party to seek candidates, a committee to evaluate them and, if approved, the NPP would then begin a sorting-out process that ends by holding primaries.
The electoral work at polling stations would allow NPP candidates to have observers, but electoral officials would hail from different regions across the island.
“The purpose is to ensure transparency and for everything to run as fairly as possible,” Rivera explained to Caribbean Business.
Among rumored officials to replace O’Neill are Carmelo Ríos, Senate majority leader and chair of the Rules & Calendar Committee; Rep. Antonio “Tony” Soto, chair of the House Treasury & Budget Committee; and former legislator Ángel Pérez.