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Sablan WIll Stand For NMI Delegate Position

The list of candidates who hope to become the Northern Marianas’ first delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives continues to grow.

Gregorio Sablan, executive director at the Commonwealth Election Commission, has announced he will run as an independent candidate for delegate this November.


“This election is crucial,” said Sablan. “Anybody who runs should carry the people’s agenda, [as opposed to the agenda of any particular political party].”

Details of his platform will be released later, he added.

Both of his declared opponents are seeking the endorsement of the local Republican Party. Northern Marianas’ resident representative to Washington Pete A. Tenorio and second-term lawmaker Ray N. Yumul, and any other Republican who may enter the race, will face off in the party’s primary tentatively scheduled on July 12, 2008.

Sablan, who has headed the election commission for almost 10 years, took leave from his post last Friday. He will resign once he has used up his leave credits.

He served two terms as a member of the Northern Marianas House of Representatives in the 1980s.

Retired Judge Juan T. Lizama, who stepped down from the bench last Saturday, is also believed to be interested in joining the congressional race.

The official period for submitting candidacy papers will run from July 7 to August 6, 2008.

The Northern Marianas congressional delegate seat was included in a measure that requires the U.S. federal government to take over labor and immigration controls in the island group.

Under the new law, Northern Marianas will have a representative with limited voting powers to the U.S. House of Representatives. Similar to House members and other delegates, the commonwealth’s delegate will be elected to Congress every two years. He can serve on committees, as well as vote on legislation at the committee level. But floor voting will not be permitted.