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Propst remains on the ballot

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REPRESENTATIVE Edwin Propst, who has resigned and whose last day in office is today, Oct. 1,  has not withdrawn his candidacy from the Nov. 3 elections, according to Julita Villagomez, Commonwealth Election Commission executive director.

“We did not receive any [notice of] withdrawal,” she said. Moreover, “the absentee ballots are already out and there is no way we can remove his name from the ballot.”

Villagomez said if Propst wins “and he does not want the position, [then] he needs to resign it, and there will be a special election to fill the seat.”

Vacancy

In a separate interview on Wednesday, Speaker Blas Jonathan Attao said  by law, he is required to notify Gov. Ralph DLG Torres about the vacancy. The governor will then appoint a new House member to fill the Precinct 1 seat.

According to the CNMI Constitution, “If less than one-half of the term remains, the governor shall fill the vacancy by appointing the unsuccessful candidate for the office in the last election who received the largest number of votes and is willing to serve or, if no candidate is available, a person qualified for the office from the district represented.”

 

Speaker Blas Jonathan Attao, right, and House Minority Leader Edwin Propst chat during a break from a meeting in the House chamber earlier this year. Photo by Emmanuel T. Erediano

Precinct 1 has six members. In the 2018 elections, which Propst topped, another independent candidate, Franklin R. Babauta, finished seventh, just 14 votes behind the sixth placer, Republican Rep. Roman C. Benavente.

Sad

Speaker Attao said he respects Rep. Propst’s decision to resign from office.

“It’s sad for the Commonwealth. It’s sad for this body, but it’s his personal decision, so we’ve got to respect that. His family and his well-being [are] way more important, and I think he has stated that in his letter. After talking to his family and friends, he thinks that it’s the right thing to do for him right now, and I respect that,” the speaker added.

Early in September, private citizen Irene Holl urged the House of Representatives to look into “longstanding and very serious allegations of sexual misconduct against [Propst] while he was a teacher at Marianas High School and also at Northern Marianas College.”

In the past two weeks, Variety learned that two complaints against Propst have been filed with the Department of Public Safety.

In an earlier interview, Propst said he was deeply saddened that he and his family were being subjected to “this egregious level of defamation and dirty politics.”


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