• The San Juan Daily Star

Special election to replace Cataño mayor to be held in 30 days

Félix Delgado Montalvo

By John McPhaul

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia said Wednesday that a special election will be held in 30 days to choose a new mayor for the municipality of Cataño after the resignation of Félix “El Cano” Delgado Montalvo.

“Now the important thing in the case of Cataño is to proceed to replace the mayor,” Pierluisi said in a radio interview. “The Electoral Code requires that a town election be held within 30 days. So I’m going to see that my party’s team makes sure that this election takes place and everyone who wants to aspire can do it.”

“Here I do not want to [designate a successor], here this has to be a democratic question,” he added.

Speaking in a radio interview earlier on Wednesday about Delgado Montalvo’s resignation, the governor said he “has cut off his future.”

“It is extremely regrettable. We will know the details. He made the decision to resign; I have to think that it is the right decision,” Pierluisi said. “It has to be that here there are going to be greater consequences for his behavior, whatever it was, there are many speculations and rumors and I am not going to go into what he did or did not do. We are going to know that because the truth always emerges. But I say, what a thing that these situations continue to happen; that is, enough is enough! And that does not have to do with parties, if we let ourselves be carried away by what has come out in the media, since there is the possibility of similar situations with mayors of both main parties in Puerto Rico, so rather it is individual conduct [where there is a] lack of values.”

Delgado Montalvo, who resigned on Tuesday afternoon amid reports that he is under investigation by federal authorities, was in his second term after being reelected last year with over 77% of the vote. He was regarded by some as a rising star in the New Progressive Party.

“Clearly here his future is broken,” the governor added. “He is asking forgiveness from his family, his constituents, and the residents of Cataño. That’s awful! After he was reelected with a percentage never seen before; that is, why? That must not happen. That is terrible, terrible.”

The resignation occurred amid reports of spending on luxuries and questionable management of funds in the San Juan metro area municipality. In September, the Comptroller’s Office seized computers from Cataño’s Administration Office as part of an investigation related to disbursements from the municipality.

The governor said he will be in charge of choosing a new mayor for Cataño within the next 30 days.

With an 11 to 3 vote on Tuesday afternoon, following Delgado Montalvo’s resignation announcement, the Cataño Municipal Assembly approved a municipal ordinance in which Gabriel Sicardó Ocasio was confirmed as vice mayor.

According to the town’s municipal code, the vice mayor takes over the duties of the mayor pending a special election with the resignation of the mayor. However, the current vice mayor, Honoris Machado, is due to resign because of age.

As Sicardó Ocasio noted in a press conference after his confirmation, “the mayor’s determination was to give the opportunity to the current vice mayor, the honorable Honoris Machado, who has been considering retirement.”

“She is already old enough to qualify for that retirement, and the mayor believed that yours truly could occupy that position on an interim basis, and tonight I have been confirmed by this [municipal] assembly.”

“The order of succession was followed through the ordinance,” added Sicardó Ocasio, who was the director of legal affairs of the Municipality of Cataño. “The Municipal Code provides that the mayor must present a draft ordinance where the order of succession is established. This was done. We have a succession where it indicates that the vice mayor, in the absence of the mayor, is the one who occupies that position on an interim basis.”

Asked whether at the time of his being confirmed as vice mayor, Delgado Montalvo had resigned, Sicardó Ocasio said “the mayor has not resigned.”

“So far we do not have that knowledge,” he said. “We have not received a letter of resignation.”

“This assembly has not received a letter of resignation, which is the corresponding procedure according to the Municipal Code of Puerto Rico,” said Sicardó Ocasio, who was with the president of the Municipal Assembly, Jorge Malavé Santiago.

Prior to that press conference, Delgado Montalvo issued a statement through his Facebook account in which he apologized for his actions, as reported Wednesday by the STAR.

“Cataño a thousand apologies, for all this bad time. Thank you for the privilege you gave me to be your mayor for five years and forgive me for not being able to meet all of your expectations,” Delgado Montalvo said. “Every day of my life I will try to be a better person to help those in need. To all those who in some way I offended, a thousand apologies. Many times power blinds and I’m sure it happened to me.”

“To my family, thank you for being the support and giving me the strength to continue life and make me understand that life is not a position but family and true friends, to you too my apologies, I love you with all my soul and I will work all the days to give back all the time that is taken away. Thanks again, Cataño,” he said.

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