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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

At one voting center, NPP voters are split

Izquierda: Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón votes at a polling station early on Sunday (Jenniffer González Colón/Facebook) / derecha: Gov. Pedro Pierluisi was the first of the major primary candidates to cast his vote on Sunday. (Gov. Pedro Pierluisi/Facebook)

By John McPhaul

The votes at the New Progressive Party (NPP) polling station at the Republic of Colombia School in Río Piedras seemed evenly divided between Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón and Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia judging by an informal poll of around two dozen voters.

González Colón’s “with the people” campaign mantra seemed to ring true for María Estel Benítez Pagán, 72, who said that Pierluisi “has worked poorly” for the people.

“He doesn’t convince me,” she said. “He helps all the millionaires.”

But for Raymond Collazo, 54, Pierluisi has done a good job.

“Pierluisi has brought order here. Jenniffer hasn’t done anything [as resident commissioner],” said Collazo, who says he even forgives the governor for the constant power outages.

“For me this problem with LUMA is something that goes back many years,” he said. “It’s not his fault.”

On the other hand, Gloria Luis, 69, said she is convinced of the sincerity of González Colón.

“When the heart is sincere, you can do good things for the people,” she said.

Héctor Ríos, 63, said he is going with Pierluisi’s experience.

“Pierluisi has done a good job,” he said. “Jenniffer doesn’t have enough experience.”

The voting for NPP resident commissioner was similarly split between Sen. William Villafañe Ramos and former island secretary of state and U.S. Army Capt. Elmer Román.

Janice West, 25, said she voted for González Colón because she “deserved an opportunity” and for Román because he is not a politician.

“He is new in politics and will bring a fresh perspective,” she said.

Margarita Lazada also said she voted for Román, because “He’s a good man.”

A voter who declined to be identified said she split the ticket between González Colón and Villafañe because she knew Villafañe personally and knows him to be a good man.

Meanwhile, the minority leader for the NPP delegation in the House of Representatives and vice president of the party, Carlos “Johnny” Méndez Nuñez, exercised his right to vote early Sunday afternoon at the Carolina de Veve elementary school in the Juan Martín de Luquillo neighborhood and asked the public to vote for González Colón.

“The cornerstone of democracy is the vote, the moment that citizens have to select the men and women who will lead Puerto Rico’s destiny for four years,” he said. “... Like hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans, today I exercised that right by voting for the next governor, Jenniffer González and Captain Elmer Roman for resident commissioner.”

At press time, González Colón held an 11-point lead over Pierluisi with 34% of the vote counted, and Villafañe had about a five-point lead over Román, in what was shaping up to be a long night of tallying votes.

Asked why he thought so many NPP faithful chose to split their ticket, Pierluisi campaign manager Edwin Mundo said, “It’s not the same to play against the Yankees as to play against the Mets.”

He added that everyone knew Villafañe would win over Román.

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