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Candidate's different names has GEC delaying certification

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - While the 4th of July fireworks planned for tonight were postponed there was somewhat of a pre-fireworks show in Hagatna last night. The Guam Election Commission was expected to certify the list of candidates for this year's primary election - but that didn't happen.

31 individuals filed their candidacy to run for senator - 15 Democrats and 16 Republicans. However one has come into question. "There is one Republican candidate who's circulator is not a registered voter," explained Maria Pangelinan, executive director of the GEC.

That candidate is identified as Romeo Carlos.

Pangelinan noted if the GEC determines not to count the signatures on that circulators petition, then the candidate will be short and not qualify. Legal counsel Jeff Moots, however, says it shouldn't be an issue, stating, "There is no requirement in the statute or regulations that the circulator of a petition for nomination of a candidate be a registered voter. There is a requirement for the circulators of referendums and initiatives to be registered voters, but nothing for nominating petition."

Along with the circulator question, commissioners like Martha Ruth further questioned the candidate's actual name. "I think we can put a stop to this discussion because the affidavit of registration is - the name is 'Carl G-R-O-S-S', Gross? This is a gross scenario here developing - something is suspicious here," she said.

And because the affidavit states a different name then what is written on the nominating petition, commissioners questioned whether his candidacy be considered null and void. "So it appears that it has to be the legal name on the nomination papers, so the petitions that are circulated need to be your legal name," said Moots, citing a section in the Guam Election Code and believes your legal name is anything that is on your birth certificate, passport or legal documents unless someone legally changes their name.

He adds if the commission was going to apply the rule as the law seems to require, they would need to apply it to everybody else. Commissioner Joseph Mafnas stated, "So you're saying if we go through all the other candidates that are now in place, and they don't use their legal name, that means it's in violation to that section? Is that correct?" Moots replied, "That's what it would say, yes."

Commissioners, however, noted that there have been times where candidates have asked to use more common names to their legal names. Joe Mesa noted, "Because I will tell you this will open Pandora's Box because this will possibly disqualify a number of people - we don't know."

Yet commissioner John Taitano stated this particular situation is different, saying, "I cannot come close to 'Carl Gross' being 'Romeo Carlos'. I mean, it's not even in the same alphabet. But that's my opinion, that's the concern I have. I can see if it's John Taitano or Johnny Taitano, but to do this, this is a real different name, if you will, and that's my concern."

Carlos meanwhile was present at the meeting and addressed the commission, saying there is nothing sneaky or suspicious about his filing. After Taitano inquired about what his real name is, Carlos responded by saying, "Carl Gross. When you grow up with a last name like Gross, jokes like Miss Ruth made are quite common, so I wasn't very eager to carry forever."

Carlos says he's used his common name professionally for 40 years and was in the process of legally changing it. "I don't understand why it's being perpetuated as some kind of trick," he said.

Also important to note is that with the name "Romeo Carlos" on his financial disclosure statement, it states "Carl Gross Gutierrez" as well. The matter along with certification of all the candidates was tabled until the GEC's July 8 meeting to give legal counsel more time to do more research.

Because the matter was tabled, the GEC postponed the primary election ballot placement drawing originally scheduled for Saturday.
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