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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Sporting 560 new seats, PDP assembles governing board, readies for May 7 presidential vote

Villalba Mayor Luis Javier Hernández Ortiz

By The Star Staff

The Popular Democratic Party (PDP) reorganized itself Sunday, selecting members of its governing board and calling for unity and respect for the commonwealth status during an assembly in Trujillo Alto in which Villalba Mayor Luis Javier Hernández Ortiz appeared to be a favorite to lead the party.

Gerardo Cruz Maldonado, a former PDP electoral commissioner, said the 2018 general assembly comprised 4,166 delegates, but for this one 560 new seats were added in under 30 days. Despite the reduction in votes in the 2020 election, some 5,000 delegates participated in Sunday’s assembly, he said.

The selection of the PDP presiden-cy is slated for May 7, but on Sunday the party sorted the ballot positions. Morovis Mayor Carmen Maldonado González took the first spot, Rep. Jesús Manuel Ortiz González second and in third place it was Hernández Ortiz, who got the most cheers at the assembly in Rubén Zayas Montañez Coliseum.

Ballots for the governing board election closed at 1 p.m. At press time, the announcements had not been made. Senate President José Luis Dalmau San-tiago, who is currently the PDP presi-dent, said seven members of the board would be chosen from a group of 13 at-large candidates. In addition, eight members per district and five representatives were to be selected.

Meanwhile, the election of the new party president is on May 7, and the two people who will occupy the vice presidencies are Sen. Migdalia González Arroyo, who re-peated as second vice president, and either Carlos “Charlie” Delgado Altieri, the current party vice president, or House Majority Leader Ángel Matos García. The presidents of the party committees for Faith-Based Communities, the LGBT-TIQ+ Community, Private Sector Workers, Small and Midsize Entrepreneurs, and Environmentalists were slated to be chosen at the event.

In a speech to hundreds of PDP delegates, Dalmau Santiago asked what role the PDP will assume in the face of the new challenges following the reorganization. and “the second question is: what will be the causes that we will have to defend as an institution?”

From the outset, he pointed out that the PDP’s role transcends the institution itself.

“The PDP has to be the voice and conscience of the people of Puerto Rico,” Dalmau Santiago said. “We are the ones who transformed the reality of the people in the past and we will do so in the future. The PDP is the instrument of service to our needy people and the engine of social and economic development. Our main role is to ensure the future of the country. And for this reason, it is up to us to offer the country a good government. We are the ones who have to fight corrup-tion and restore the country’s confidence in its government.”

“We are the ones who protect the environment, who guide fiscal recovery, protect the University of Puerto Rico, and save the pensions of all retirees,” the outgoing party president continued. “We are the ones who increased the minimum wage, offered credit to work and created new jobs. And, as part of that role of being a reflection of our people; we are the custodians of our identity as a people, our cul-ture, our Olympic autonomy and our flag. In addition to this role – of being the voice and conscience of this people – we have to direct our struggles, meet new challenges and offer new solutions.”

Dalmau Santiago also called for the party faithful to lobby Congress in favor of the commonwealth status, which was eliminated from congressional legislation for a new status plebiscite.

“Faced with this affront, we raise our voices and cre-ate an indestructible wall to defeat the [pro-statehood New Progressive Party] and its allies, making any bill that seeks to take away our right to vote ineffective,” he said. “The message of the PDP people before the Congress was clear and forceful: The commonwealth is respected and for this reason, the commonwealth stays. The commonwealth stays; the commonwealth stays; the commonwealth stays.”

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