• The Star Staff

SEC chairman to appeal decision to confirm Rodríguez as mayor of Guánica

By John McPhaul


State Elections Commission (SEC) Chairman Francisco Rosado Colomer said Monday in a radio interview that he will appeal the decision of Judge Brenda de León Ríos, who confirmed Ismael “Titi” Rodríguez Ramos of the Popular Democatic Party (PDP) as mayor of Guánica.

De León Ríos determined that Edgardo Cruz Vélez, a candidate by direct nomination for mayor of Guánica, had 38 votes awarded twice and ordered them to be subtracted from the final result, which gave the victory to Rodríguez Ramos, who had already been preliminarily certified by the SEC as mayor of Guánica.

“We are going to appeal because we differ with the judgment of Judge Brenda de León,” Rosado Colomer said in a radio interview. “In this particular case, we have a different opinion from hers.”

“Our position is that no” 38 double votes were counted in favor of Cruz Vélez, the SEC chairman said.

“I have heard the statements of the attorney [PDP Electoral Commissioner Gerardo] Cruz and of the attorney Pedro Ortiz Alvarez [a lawyer for Rodríguez Ramos]. I have to indicate that on Dec. 30, we said to Mr. Cruz that on Nov. 4, we performed the exercise that was done on the 14th,” Rosado Colomer said. “He [Cruz] stated that Mr. Rodríguez preferred that the matter be addressed first in court. Because if you remember, on Dec. 29, the sentence of [San Juan Superior Court] Judge [Anthony] Cuevas [Ramos] had already arrived, which was later confirmed by the Supreme Court. So what we had to do was wait for the judicial process to end and on Jan. 14 we began the exercise at 9 in the morning.”

“I have to report that one of the things that we identified that day was a municipal ballot with a vote in favor of Mr. Edgardo Cruz Vélez misplaced between the legislative ballots, which forced us to make an additional search for ballots in the different packages,” the SEC chief added.

“Finally in the early hours of the morning, when it was brought to the attention of the commissioners, the fact that Mr. Amaury [Marrero], Mr. Edgardo Cruz’s representative, had some minutes that had not been uploaded to the system, that had not been added, to a preliminary certification that the alternate commissioners had made and signed, it was discussed, the briefcases were searched for, the minutes were searched for and four of the five alternate commissioners who signed the preliminary certification concluded that these minutes had not been added [with 38 votes] to summarize them,” Rosado Colomer said.

Judge de León Ríos decided the following: “Cruz Vélez had the opportunity to contest the request for summary judgment in accordance with the legal guidelines that oblige the party against whom a motion for a summary judgment is presented to dispute the evidence presented, specifying the facts in dispute and the evidence supporting his position; however, he did not. Our Supreme Court has reiterated that whoever opposes a request for summary judgment cannot rely on his allegations, when the motion is supported by credible and admissible evidence. If you intend to defeat him, it is not enough to make mere affirmations, because you risk the court accepting the request and ruling against you. Roldán Flores & Soto Lambert v. M. Cuebas, Inc., 199 DPR 664, 677 (2018).”

In keeping with the above, the judge resolved that the certification of Jan. 15, 2021 and the certification of Jan. 21, 2021 (Resolution CEE-AC-21-011) added 38 votes that had been counted and included in the Preliminary Consolidation Report of Direct Nomination of Mayor of Guánica, so it was appropriate to subtract from the total votes awarded to Edgardo Cruz Vélez.

On its merits, the motion for summary judgment filed by Rodríguez Ramos was declared valid. Consequently, the appeal SJ2021CV00287 under the protection of article 10.15 of the Electoral Code of 2020 promoted by Edgardo Cruz Vélez was dismissed and its filing ordered with prejudice.

In addition, the appeal for review SJ2021CV00438 was declared valid under article 13.2 of the Electoral Code of 2020, presented by Ismael Rodríguez Ramos. Consequently, the SEC was ordered to amend the certifications issued on Jan. 15 and Jan. 21 so that they reflect the correct number of votes received by Edgardo Cruz Vélez, after subtracting the 38 votes that were duplicated.

Once the vote count has been corrected in accordance with the ruling, the SEC is ordered to certify as the elected mayor of the Municipality of Guánica the one who obtained the majority of the votes, the judge said.

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