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Palacios taps all political parties to oversee CNMI's Jan. 9 transition

Lt. Gov.-elect David Apatang and Gov.-elect Arnold Palacios. Photo courtesy of the Independent Party

By Bryan Manabat

Saipan-- Gov.-elect Arnold I. Palacios and Lt. Gov.-elect David M. Apatang have appointed more than 65 individuals from all parties to oversee the transition process for the different CNMI departments and agencies.

"The transition committee has been meeting every week to give us an assessment on the conditions of the different departments, to come up with recommendations on what to do short term and long term," Palacios told the Pacific Island Times.

The inauguration for the Palacios-Apatang administration is set for Jan. 9, 2023 on the grounds of the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe.

The inauguration is estimated to cost between $200,000 and $240,000.

The Commonwealth Election Commission board has officially certified the results of the Nov. 25 gubernatorial runoff election after counting the remaining absentee votes on Friday.

Palacios and Apatang, of the Independent Party received a total of 7,304 votes, while Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and his running mate, Sen. Vinson Vinnie Sablan, of the Republican Party garnered 6,263 votes based on official tabulation results.

Torres said earlier he looked forward to a smooth transition and vowed cooperation, "where our government services to the public will not be interrupted for our community."

Former Representative John "Liling" Reyes is the overall chairman of the transition committee, while former Rep. Oscar "OB" Babauta will lead the inauguration event.

Rep. Tina Sablan and Rep. Leila Staffler, who came in third in the Nov. 8 general elections, are among those tasked to oversee the transition in some departments.

Sablan has been assigned to the Infrastructure Recovery and Office of Planning and Development, while Staffler has been tasked with overseeing the transition at the Department of Labor and NMI Trades Institute.

Rep. Edwin Propst, an arch-critic of the police department, will oversee the transition at the Department of Public Safety.


The inauguration subcommittee has sent digital invitations that will be followed by hard copies of the official invitation for dignitaries from off-island and other countries.

The incoming 23rd NMI Legislature of the House and Senate are expected to be in full attendance.

Palacios said among his administration's priorities upon assuming office is to conduct an audit of government finances and build stronger relationships with regional partners such as Guam and the Federated States of Micronesia.

"We are ready to answer the call of our people and we will honor the trust you bestowed upon us," Palacios and Apatang said in an earlier statement.

At the Dec. 1 1 appreciation picnic, Palacios and Apatang thanked their supporters including Sablan and Staffler, who hauled votes into the Independent team during the runoff.

"We appreciate all the help and vote of confidence for Arnold and me to make the change in our commonwealth in rebuilding trust in the government," Apatang said.

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