Part of my decision to run for office this year was to rebuild the Democratic Party for future elections. In order to build the party, new candidates will have to be identified and they will have to make the decision to run, much as I did.
Becoming a candidate for elected office in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is not difficult. In order to run for Mayor I simply had to collect signatures from 100 registered voters living on Saipan and pay a $250 registration fee. The signature and registration requirements for governor and US Congress are a bit higher and for every other office they are a bit lower.
The first step in registering as a candidate is going up to the Commonwealth Election Commission (CEC) and signing out a Candidates Packet. The packet has all the forms and all the information you need to run.
The next step is to collect signatures. I managed to collect about 250, well over the necessary 100. Some signatures are undoubtably duplicates or not from registered voters on Saipan, so getting more than the minimum is a good idea.
I had a lot of help collecting signatures. While I collected about 80 of them myself, mostly at family gatherings, soccer games, and walking the streets of Garapan, I had about a dozen people collecting for me. Members of the Democratic Party, family members, and friends carried my nominating petition around with them and gathered signatures. Without realizing it, the people who helped me collect signatures became the first volunteers of my campaign.
Once you get enough signatures you have to create a committee. At a minimum you need a Chairperson and a Treasurer because their names have to be reported to the CEC.
I had to fill out three forms: a candidate's committee organizational form, an affidavit swearing I am eligible to run for office, and a form signed by the Democratic Party Chairman and Secretary affirming that I am running under the party banner.
After that, all I had to do was pay my filing fee at the Treasury.
I turned all my paperwork over on Monday morning and today at 3 PM the Commonwealth Election Commission approved Resolution Number 09-004, thereby certifying Angelo O'Connor Villagomez as the Democratic Nominee for the Mayor of Saipan.
It's election time!