Edgardo-Cruz-Guánica The retired Air Force soldier’s victory has been questioned by the other candidates because he obtained the votes as a write-in candidate.
Image via screengrab Edgardo Cruz Facebook

If he prevails, he would make history in Puerto Rico as the first mayor to be elected by direct nomination and the second mayor to be openly gay.

The Puerto Rico State Elections Commission (CEE by its Spanish initials) has certified Edgardo Cruz Vélez as the candidate who obtained the most votes for mayor of Guánica.

This is the latest chapter in Cruz’s struggle to prevail as mayor of the southern Puerto Rico municipality of Guánica, which was severely damaged by earthquakes a year ago.

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The retired Air Force soldier’s victory has been questioned by other candidates because he obtained his votes as a write-in candidate—meaning voters wrote his name on the ballot.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico determined all votes for the independent candidate should be counted regardless of variations in how his name was written down by different voters. 

After the court’s decision, the CEE proceeded to count Guánica’s votes on Thursday. As of last night, Cruz had obtained 2,411 votes by direct nomination. 

The Popular Democratic Party (PPD by its Spanish initials) candidate, Ismael “Titi” Rodríguez Ramos, tallied 2,384 votes. This week, he was sworn in as mayor of Guánica based on previous results.

Cruz told El Nuevo Día Friday he challenged Rodríguez’s certification in court.

Rodríguez said through his legal representative he will appeal to the court because the CEE had asserted, in a motion regarding Cruz’s case, there were no more votes to be counted.

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If Cruz prevails, he would make history in Puerto Rico as the first mayor to be elected by direct nomination and the second mayor to be openly gay.

Cruz was decertified twice before the elections—first by the New Progressive Party (PNP by its Spanish initials) and then by the Proyecto Dignidad party. In the end, the people of Guánica voted for him by writing his name on the municipal ballot.