Bill would create a temporary vacancy for mayors unable to perform duties

Senator Jose “Pedo” Terlaje (file photo)

Senator Jose “Pedo” Terlaje has introduced legislation to close what he describes as a “gap” in local law that makes it difficult to fill an unexpected mayoral vacancy.

Bill 263-35 establishes guidelines for declaring a “temporary mayoral vacancy” should village mayors become unable to fulfill their official duties.

If passed into law, the governor would point appoint an acting mayor with the advice of the Municipal Planning Council (MPC) of the affected village and confirmation of the appointment by the Legislature.

“As a mayor, I worked for 12 years to serve my village’s residents,” Terlaje said in a news release. “This measure creates a mechanism to ensure the residents of every village that they will have a mayor regardless of the reason for the absence of their elected leader.”

Senator Terlaje himself is a former 3-term mayor and the current legislative oversight chair for the Mayors Council of Guam. He says his bill does not facilitate the recall of an elected mayor but provides a means to assure continuity in the office until a mayor can return to the job or a regularly scheduled election takes place.

While Terlaje acknowledges the timing of this legislation is because of the criminal charges brought against Mayor Jesse Blas, his successor in Yona, he says Bill 263-35 can address a vacancy for any reason.

“Our residents deserve to have a mayor acting on their behalf no matter the circumstance and this legislation is simply a measure to fix a part of the code that wasn’t foreseen by previous lawmakers,” Terlaje said.

He added: “The community needs to be sure that their interests are being heard and that a mayor is there to serve their needs.”