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Last updateFri, 20 Sep 2019 12am

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    Wednesday, September 18, 2019-7:26:12A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Julita Villagomez named election commission executive director

THE Commonwealth Election Commission has finally appointed Julita Villagomez as its executive director.

Villagomez has been with the commission for over 30 years and had been the acting executive director for over a year.

Her appointment was confirmed unanimously by the board members during a meeting on Thursday at their multi-purpose center office in Susupe.

Board chair Frances Sablan, before moving to appoint Villagomez, asked Assistant Attorney General Michael Witrey whether the appointment would need the governor’s approval.

Wintrey said one of the requirements is to hold a public hearing, but he added that a board meeting is also considered a public hearing.

Villagomez said she is pleased with her appointment and will again work with the board and commission personnel to ensure that they do a good job in this year’s elections.

“We will treat all candidates equally,” she added.

Sablan said: “We wanted to address that item [Villagomez’s appointment] on our agenda sooner, but we weren’t sure of the legalities especially in the absence of an assistant AG at our previous meeting. That’s when we wanted to address it, but now that we have an AAG and we’ve heard his comment that we do have the authority to go ahead and appoint her and that this meeting serves as a public hearing, we basically have our own executive director now.”

Commonwealth Election Commission board member Jesus Sablan, board chairwoman Frances Sablan, Assistant Attorney General Michael Witrey, board member Esther Yatar, executive director Julita Villagomez, board members Leilani Manglona, Trinidad Rabauliman and Donald Hofschneider.  Photo by Cherrie Anne E. VillahermosaCommonwealth Election Commission board member Jesus Sablan, board chairwoman Frances Sablan, Assistant Attorney General Michael Witrey, board member Esther Yatar, executive director Julita Villagomez, board members Leilani Manglona, Trinidad Rabauliman and Donald Hofschneider. Photo by Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa

Sablan added, “We are very pleased and happy that she is our executive director. She has been here for so long, since before I came to the board.”

Independent House candidate Ana Teregeyo of Precinct 1, who witnessed the election board meeting, also expressed her support for Villagomez’s appointment, saying she is confident that Villagomez is qualified to do the job and will be an effective executive director of the commission.

During the meeting, the absentee ballot applications were also discussed. Wintrey recommended that the board revisit the absentee applications to make sure that the absentee voters are legitimate.

Witrey also suggested that the commission compare the lists of absentee voters with those of the previous elections. But Sablan said they only have access to the 2014 election records as the other records were moved to the procurement office after their office was damaged by Typhoon Soudelor last year.

As of Thursday, there were 660 absentee voters while the number of registered voters was 17,935 — 1,689 for Tinian, 1,926 for Rota and 14,320 for Saipan and the Northern Islands.

There are 166 registered voters for the Northern Islands, but no one among them is residing there.

According to the election commission, the Northern Islands early voting was scheduled for Sept. 24, but since no one is there right now, residents of the Northern Islands who are residing on Saipan can vote on Nov. 1 instead.

The seven-day, early-voting process for Saipan, Tinian and Rota starts on Nov. 1 while Election Day is on Nov. 8.

In the 2014 polls, the election commission spent some $9,000 to charter a boat to the Northern Islands for the ballots of the six voters there.