Torres-Palacios, Kilili win by a landslide

Governor of the Northern Marianas Ralph Torres. Picture: RNZ

SAIPAN, 15 NOVEMBER 2018 (MARIANAS VARIETY) – Republican  Governor  Ralph D.L.G. Torres and his running-mate Senate President Arnold I. Palacios on Tuesday won a convincing mandate while independent U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Sablan easily fended off a challenge from the GOP’s Angel A. Demapan.

Also securing victories were several other Republicans and two high-profile reformist candidates, Rep. Edwin Propst in Precinct 1 and former Rep. Tina Sablan in Precinct 2.

Attorney General Edward Manibusan ran unopposed while CNMI Supreme Court Chief Justice Alexandro Castro and Associate Judge Teresa Kim-Tenorio were retained by over 80 percent of the voters.

In the Saipan Senate race for two seats, independent candidate Vinnie Sablan finished first with Republican Sen. Justo Quitugua placing second.

For Saipan’s Board of Education seat, Andrew Orsini narrowly defeated James Rayphand — 5,220 to 4,987.

Of the four Senate seats on Rota and Tinian, the Republicans won three and will retain control of the upper house. Republicans also won three of the four mayoral races. Of the 20 House seats, the GOP won at least 13.

Governor Torres and his running mate received 8,922 votes or 62 percent — the most received by a gubernatorial tandem in Commonwealth history.

Torres, the youngest chief executive in CNMI history, and Palacios bested the independent team of former Gov. Juan N. Babauta and former Education Commissioner Rita A. Sablan who garnered 5,420 votes or 38 percent.

In the delegate race, Kilili received 9,150 votes or 64 percent while Demapan garnered 5,199 votes or 36 percent.

In a statement, Demapan said:

“The votes cast have been tallied and despite the incredible efforts put forth by our campaign committee and supporters, we came up short. I entered the congressional race recognising that I would be the underdog candidate, and I know that my team and I did everything we could have done, leaving nothing on the table. I congratulate Congressman Kilili on his re-election and wish him all the best in his next term.

“It has been a long journey, but I am also looking forward to spending more time with my wife and children. They have been my partners in public service these past four years and I can’t thank them enough.

“I would like to thank my campaign team and supporters for their hard work and votes of confidence. It has been a tremendous blessing to take this journey with them by my side.

“While I will be concluding my term in the Commonwealth Legislature, I remain committed to being a part of the solution in our community and in our Commonwealth.

“God bless our beautiful Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.”

The tabulation of  votes at the multi-purpose center on Tuesday evening was marred by the flaws of the vote-counting machines, which were not programmed to print results by precincts. The machines were borrowed from Guam because the machines purchased from Nebraska two years ago were damaged by Typhoon Yutu, Commonwealth Election Commission Executive Director Julita Villagomez said.

She said the machines from Guam did not allow for the announcement of results per election precinct.

This time, all the ballots had to be tabulated first before results could be announced.

It was the slowest tabulation in CNMI election history since the 1997 elections when ballots were counted manually.

CEC Executive Director Julita Villagomez said around 50 percent of votes were cast during the seven-day early-voting period: 7,154.

She said there were 2,150 absentee votes. The total number of votes cast was 14,649 which represents 77 percent of the 18,979 registered voters in the Commonwealth.

On Wednesday, Governor Torres issued the following statement:

“Today, progress moves forward for the Marianas.

“It moves forward because of you. It moves forward because you believe in progress, a brighter future, and a stronger Marianas.

“On behalf of Lt. Governor-elect Arnold Indalecio Palacios and his family, thank you, Un Dangkulu na Si Yu’us Ma’ase yan Ghilisou for all of our supporters who stuck with us through thick and thin and through all the criticism. To our people of the Marianas who are off island, thank you also for all of the support.

“I want to thank everyone that came and exercised their right to vote this election. Whether you voted for the very first time, whether you helped on any campaign, whether you were a Republican, or an Independent, or a Democrat, you made your voice heard by voting for the direction you want for your islands.

“The people have spoken, and I want to congratulate all those that made it.

“I want to extend my appreciation to the CNMI Republican Party, we are all one family. We take care of each other, and you are all among the best people I know.

“To all of our people who have given us their blessing and to those who campaigned against us, remember always that we are one Marianas, and we will make sure that we continue our progress together so that you and your families can live prosperously.

“This is your victory.

“Marianas, we will continue with our progress.

“We will continue to grow and stabilise our economy, so that every resident has a good-paying job to help their families.

“We will continue to invest into our education and workforce development, so that we can alleviate poverty through the success of our students.

“We will continue to better our healthcare system, so that our hospital can take care of our patients here on island and that our doctors and nurses can continue to do good work.

“We will continue to ensure that our villages are safer and free from drugs by developing and training more law enforcement officers to patrol our streets and protect our children.

“We will continue to lead our recovery efforts so that every person, regardless of income or citizenship, can feel a sense of normalcy again. Our short-term and long-term recovery efforts will  remain our top priority. Please continue to stay patient and resilient, Marianas. Assistance continues to come in from partners near and far.

“To all of our hard working and dedicated government employees and passionate private sector partners, thank you for all the support since Day One. This is a great day for the people of the CNMI. It has been a long day, a long battle, and a long election season. I want to congratulate all of those who have been voted in by the people. It is a process that we respect, and we are just blessed.

“Arnold and I are blessed to be given this greatest honor to guide our people for the next four years. We are very humbled.

“Together, with your help and God’s blessings, we will continue to build on the progress we have made and move the Marianas forward.

“On behalf of our family and my wife Diann, Un Dangkulu na Si Yu’us Ma’ase, Ghilisou, and thank you for all the support. We love you, Marianas.

“Un Familia, Un Guinaiya, Tipiyeew.

“Let’s get to work, Mariana,.” he said.

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