A new proposal to fill a seat left vacant by a village mayor has been introduced in the Guam Legislature.
Sen. Jose “Pedo” Terlaje, chairman of the committee on public safety, introduced Bill 263, which would authorize the Guam governor to appoint an acting mayor within 30 days of the temporary vacancy being announced.
The measure states the acting appointment would be made with the advice of the Municipal Planning Council of the affected village and the consent of the Legislature. The bill also states the acting mayor will serve until the elected mayor can return or a new mayor is elected in a general election.
"Sen. Pedo's proposal provides governor's authority that was in statute before. If that authority was still in effect, we would probably have an acting mayor appointed already," said Angel Sablan, the executive director of the Mayors’ Council of Guam. Sablan has asked Blas to step down.
He said the governor’s authority to appoint was removed with the passage of Public Law 32-129 in February 2014.
Terlaje's bill is among the latest introduced in an effort to resolve the upheaval resulting from Yona Mayor Jesse M. Blas' federal indictment on charges of bribery and extortion. Blas has been held in the Department of Corrections since his arrest in September 2019.
Speaker Tina Muña Barnes, who also asked Blas to resign, recently announced Bill 259, which proposes to place on the ballot whether Blas should be recalled from elected office. The measure was introduced by Vice Speaker Telena Nelson.
Public hearing on election reform
Meanwhile, the Legislature's Committee on Appropriations, General Government Operations and Housing will hold an oversight hearing on various election-related concerns including Bill 246. Bill 246 was introduced by Sens. Joe S. San Agustin, Speaker Tina Rose Muna Barnes and Sen. Jose Terlaje.
Recently, multiple bills were introduced by numerous senators regarding the recall of the mayor of Yona, the inclusion of a recall election in events causing a vacancy in municipal offices, the expedient appointment of members to the Municipal Planning Council, the procedures of filling a vacancy in the position of mayor and Municipal Planning Council, and the creation of a temporary vacancy should a mayor be unable to perform the duties of the office for reasons not already listed in statute, San Agustin stated in a press release.
“With the multitude of bills introduced and the need for us to bring resolution to the many concerns brought forth in the community, I invite all interested to provide testimony on Bill 246-35 to strengthen our election laws so we can address the various matters from all island stakeholders,” San Agustin said.