Romero says he is SJ mayor-elect; CVM resists, insisting that ‘every vote counts’

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @PCorreaHenry

Special to The Star

New Progressive Party San Juan mayoral candidate Miguel Romero Lugo said Monday that he is the capital city’s mayor-elect, even though the State Elections Commission (SEC) has stated that a preliminary certification does not certify elected candidates.

During a press conference where he announced his appointed transition committee members, including former Comptroller Manuel Díaz Saldaña as president, Romero said he received a preliminary results certification from the SEC, which was signed by the commission’s chairman Francisco Rosado Colomer and every electoral commissioner except Citizens Victory Movement (CVM) electoral commissioner Olvin Valentín.

“Transition processes won’t be put on hold amid a general scrutiny because general scrutinies, basically, are a review meant to inspect record accounting,” Romero said.

“There’s no recount, there is a rigor to comply with the law, as the law establishes when the process begins, which is immediately after the elections. We want to be very responsible. I have no doubt about the result of the election,” Romero added. “I assure you that if the results hadn’t been the same, neither the Popular Democratic Party, the Puerto Rican Independence Party nor the Dignity Project would have signed the certification; therefore, the political campaign is over. We have to begin this legal process formally for the sake of San Juan citizens.”

When a reporter asked if it was “untimely” to claim victory against CVM San Juan mayoral candidate Manuel Natal Albelo, the senator said that since Election Day there has been an opportunity to file lawsuits to challenge the process and detain certifications.

Meanwhile, even though Valentín said via a written statement that “the certification issued by the SEC with supposed preliminary results has no legal basis and is based on an article of the old Electoral Code, now repealed,” Romero responded that “looking at the certification, the certification was expedited according to Article 10.8 from the 2020 Electoral Code.”

“Lawsuits don’t stop the law,” Romero said. “The law is the law and we must enforce it. This is an issue of complying with our responsibilities. They’re saying that they’re filing lawsuits, but they haven’t done so; they could have done so a day after the elections. I find this contradictory that a movement that sent a message on new styles [of politics] is using the styles that the people have rejected to try in some way to delegitimize a process that has been done transparently, where rules were applied equally to everyone.”

As for earlier statements from the CVM claiming as false that the SEC counted every vote since there are around 4,000 manual votes, ballots that were not read by counting machines, and other polling centers left to scrutinize, Romero responded that the certification states that “100 percent of the polling centers had reported, as four political parties confirmed it.”

“Allegations, speculations,” Romero said. “I think what they do is dwell on the differences, and perhaps someone outside feels a little lost. I mean that some citizen does not feel some kind of confidence. I reiterate that the process was carried out, and the rules applied the same to everyone.”

As for beginning a transition with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto, Romero said he hasn’t received a response from her yet as he only announced on Sunday that he was preparing for a transition. However, he said, “I expect to begin a process in a harmonious, cordial, serious manner, and adhering to all the legal parameters that guide the entire process.”

Natal spokesperson: Romero ‘has not been certified as mayor’

Later in the day, Natal’s spokesperson Orlando Vélez said in a written statement that the CVM mayoral candidate’s campaign “is committed to ensuring that every vote from the people of San Juan counts.”

“During the past week, we have recruited and trained hundreds of volunteers who will participate in the General Scrutiny,” Vélez said. “Contrary to what Senator Romero said, neither has he been certified as Mayor, nor have all the votes been counted. In fact, there are thousands of votes yet to be counted, which will undoubtedly define the outcome of the mayoral race. It will be days and possibly weeks of a lot of work, but, in the end, the desire for a change by the majority of the people of the Capital City will be reflected.”

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