A stinging rebuke
- By Emmanuel T. Erediano - Reporter
Kilili in a landslide; anti-Fitial candidates win 16 of 20 House seats, 2 of 3 open Senate seats; voters OK pension obligation bond, elected AG, NMC initiatives; Ada, Tenorio top Saipan BOE race; Castro, Wiseman, Inos retained
GOVERNOR Benigno R. Fitial's hand-picked Republican candidates sustained punishing losses on Tuesday as voters overwhelmingly supported anti-administration candidates, including U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan who received the most votes in NMI history.
Sablan, an Independent aligned with U.S. Democrats, won in all election precincts and garnered most of the early and absentee votes.
He received a total of 9,829 votes, or over 79 percent, while his Republican opponent, Ignacia T. Demapan, got 2,503.
Of the governor's 20 House candidates, only four made it into the winning column while all of the nine representatives who supported his impeachment were re-elected. Among the notable GOP casualties were Speaker Eli D. Cabrera, Reps. Ramon S. Basa, Fredrick P. Deleon Guerrero and Sylvestre I. Iguel. Rep. Stanley T. Torres, an Independent aligned with the governor, placed 13th in a field of 16 candidates in Precinct 3 where Fitial resides.
Rep. Ray N. Yumul, a pro-impeachment lawmaker, easily defeated the governor's candidate, Saipan Sen. Luis P. Crisostimo, who was seeking a third term in the Senate.
On Tinian, the opposition also trounced Fitial's House and Senate candidates. Rota, however, provided some small consolation to the ruling party as its senatorial candidate, former Rep. Victor B. Hocog, upset the CNMI's longest serving lawmaker, Senate President Paul A. Manglona, while Rep. Teresita Santos, the Republican House candidate, staved off a challenge from her cousin, Felix Santos.
Republican Richard B. Seman of Precinct 1 and pro-Fitial House members George N. Camacho and Felicidad T. Ogumoro were the only other GOP "survivors."
Asked to comment on the election results, anti-corruption activist Glen Hunter on Wednesday morning said: "So many great people set an example for this CNMI for so many years. They planted the seeds of hope and change. What we see before us today is a grand harvest of what has sprung from those seeds. I am so thankful for all the hardships they endured and the perseverance and determination they showed. I am so proud to witness firsthand this rising tide of hope for the CNMI."
Businessman Juan S. Tenorio said the results showed that the people “have spoken — they are tired of corruption and are demanding a clean government.”
Congressman Sablan, for his part, said: “I am so very grateful and humbled by the overwhelming support I received in yesterday’s election.”
He thanked everyone who voted for him and those who helped his re-election campaign, especially his family and friends and the Kilili for Congress committee members.
“It is an extraordinary privilege to serve as the representative of the people of the Northern Marianas in our national government. Yesterday’s vote only deepens my sense of responsibility to do everything I can to make life better here in the Northern Mariana Islands,” Sablan said.
“We face incredible challenges both for our islands and for our nation as a whole. But knowing that I have such solid backing from the people I represent gives me the strength that will be needed to take on these difficulties over the next two years,” he added.
Sablan also thanked his Republican opponent, former Kagman Elementary School principal Dr. Ignacia Demapan.
“Our democracy thrives when voters have choices. Dr. Demapan was willing to give voters a choice and to speak out for the ideas she believes in. She conducted herself with grace and dignity throughout the campaign and I am grateful to her,” he added.
Former political science instructor Sam McPhetres said yesterday was a “very important day.”
The election. he added, was probably the most important election in CNMI history because “we have a whole variety of issues to take care of.”
He noted a “deep interest in the election among the people.”
“We have never seen such interest before,” he said. “People were actually coming out and making themselves heard.”
McPhetres believes that at least 75 percent of the people voted with their conscience, “which is a huge improvement” in local politics.
Also on Tuesday, voters approved the pension bond, elected AG and Northern Marianas College mission statement initiatives.
Chief Justice Alex Castro, Judges David Wiseman and Perry Inos, for their part, were retained by voters.
In the Board of Education race, Janice Tenorio and current Chairwoman Marylou Ada won on Saipan while on Rota, Denise R King defeated Dexter P. Apatang.
On Saipan, there were only two municipal council candidates for its three seats: current Chairman Ramon B. Camacho and former Chairwoman Antonia M. Tudela.
The Rota Municipal Council winners were Gardner Barcinas, Glenn Maratita and George Hocog while on Tinian, the top three were Antonio Borja, Reynaldo Cing and Estevan Cabrera.
12,599 of the CNMI’s 16,771 registered voters cast their ballots for a 75 percent turnout.