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Aníbal Acevedo Vilá
|Order:||8th Democratically Elected Governor|
|Term of Office:||January 2, 2005–|
|Date of Birth:||Friday, February 13, 1962|
|Place of Birth:||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|First Lady:||Luisa Gándara|
|Political Party:||Popular Democratic Party|
|Resident Commissioner:||Luis Fortuño (2005–)|
Aníbal Acevedo Vilá (born February 13, 1962) is the eighth and current democratically elected Governor of Puerto Rico. Acevedo has served in many political posts in Puerto Rico, including being member of the House of Representatives (1993–2001) and Resident Commissioner (2001–2005). Acevedo won the office of Governor on the elections of November 2004, defeating former Governor Pedro Rosselló. However, Acevedo's margin of victory was just 3,566 votes and was marred by a controversy that went to several U.S. federal courts.
Early life and education
Acevedo Vilá was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and he attended the Colegio San José High School in San Juan, Puerto Rico where he graduated as President of the Class of 1979. In 1982 he obtained a B.A. in Political Science at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. He continued his studies in Law at the University of Puerto Rico where he was elected Vice President of the Student Council and served as Editor-In-Chief of the UPR Law Review. He obtained his Juris Doctor in 1985, graduating Magna Cum Laude. After passing the Puerto Rico Bar, Acevedo Vilá completed a year-long clerkship at the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, where he worked under Justice Federico Hernández Denton, current Chief Justice of this Court. In 1987 he obtained a Master's Degree in Law from Harvard University. From 1987 to 1988, he served as a law clerk for the Honorable Levin Campbell, Chief Judge of the Federal Court of Appeals for the First Circuit Court in Boston, Massachusetts.
Acevedo Vilá began his political career in 1989 when he worked as Advisor in Legislative Affairs to then-Governor Rafael Hernández Colón. In 1992 he was elected as Representative At-Large to Puerto Rico's House of Representatives. He developed his leadership skills during this period and was able to win reelection in 1996. The following year, his party elected him House Minority Leader. In February 1997, Acevedo Vilá was elected President of the Popular Democratic Party.
In 1998 Acevedo participated in a campaign against the Young Bill, a proposed legislative project named after Representative Don Young and headed by the U.S. Congress which sought to resolve the political status of Puerto Rico by calling a referendum. However, the referendum called for in the project would not have included the option for Puerto Rico to remain a Commonwealth with the United States.
Although the project failed to become law, Puerto Rico's elected officials at the time headed by Governor Pedro Rosselló organized a non-binding Plebiscite to define Puerto Rico's political status, in which Puerto Ricans were given five options in the ballot; Commonwealth, Associated Republic, Statehood, Independence from the United States, and "None of the Above".
Acevedo and his party believed that the definition for the Commonwealth which was included in the plebsicite ballot was ill-defined; therefore, his party campaigned for the "None of the Above" option. In December 1998, the "None of the Above" column won over the other options on the ballot.
In 2000, Acevedo ran for Resident Commissioner of the island after defeating José Hernández Mayoral , the son of then-former Governor Rafael Hernández Colón, in the party primary. Later that year, Acevedo defeated PNP incumbent Carlos Romero Barceló. In the same election, Popular Democratic Party candidate, Sila M. Calderón became the seventh democratically elected Governor of Puerto Rico.
In the summer of 2003, Governor Calderón announced she would not seek re-election the following year. José Hernández Mayoral surfaced as the likely PPD candidate for Governor for the 2004 elections. Months following the announcement, Hernández Mayoral widthdrew from the race, citing personal matters. Acevedo Vilá filled the vacant candidacy due to the support he received from influential mayors of several Puerto Rican municipalities.
Acevedo won the Puerto Rico General Elections of 2004 by approximately 3,800 votes (0.2 percent of the vote) over former-governor Pedro Rosselló, therefore, becoming the Governor-elect of Puerto Rico. However, since the margin of victory was so small, a full recount of the elections took place. During the period, Rosselló filed a civil law suit against Acevedo Vila himself over a dispute of certain ballots that were cast during the elections. The case moved up to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, where three judges ruled that the case the question of whether the ballots were properly cast or not was a question of state law and therefore should be seen by the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico. The Supreme Court of Puerto Rico ruled that the ballots in question were valid. On December 28, 2004 the recount ended and Acevedo was certified as the winner of the elections.
Acevedo assumed the office of Governor on January 2, 2005. He will face many political challenges during his term. This is due to the fact that the Legislature of Puerto Rico is controlled by the opposing New Progressive Party (PNP). The new Resident Commissioner is also member of PNP.
Because the Executive and the Legislative branches of the government are controlled by different parties, Governor Acevedo Vilá has called his government a "Shared Government". He has concentrated his efforts on trying to reach bi-partisan support for his projects. He began this task by appointing members of the opposing political parties to his Cabinet.
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