AGP taps Bernier for State, Vila as chief of staff
Puerto Rico Olympic Committee President David Bernier was tapped as secretary of State, a key post that requires confirmation from the incoming Senate when the new governing term begins in January. The post fills in when a sitting governor is off the island and is first in line to take over if a governor dies or becomes incapacitated in office.
García Padilla also tapped Ingrid Vila Biaggi as his chief of staff. She is currently co-chairs his transition team and heads efforts to fill the rest of the Cabinet and agency posts.
The Popular Democratic Part leader said he was “honored” that both Bernier and Vila had answered his call without “hesitation,” adding that the appointments are a step toward “reunification” in Puerto Rico.
“This lets me see with increasing certainty that we will have the team that is needed,” García Padilla said in a press conference.
Bernier headed the Sports & Recreation Department during the administration of Gov. Aníbal Acevedo Vilá (2005-2008). He also served as executive director of the Office of Youth Affairs under the administration of Gov. Sila Calderón (2001-2004) and part of the Acevedo Vilá term.
The Patillas native was a member of Puerto Rico’s national fencing team. He has helmed the Olympic Committee since 2008.
Vilá is an engineer by profession. She was deputy La Fortaleza chief of staff during the administration of Gov. Sila Calderón, on whose incoming transition committee she also served. She is a member of the Luis Muñoz Marín Foundation’s board of directors.
“Both have the administrative experience, bearing and will to serve their island and to unite Puerto Ricans,” García Padilla said.
“I know the responsibility that comes with this job. It would have been easier for me to stay in the private sector,” Vila said. “But it is a challenge to unite as a people and work for a better future.
The incoming La Fortaleza chief of staff pledged to work “tirelessly” and with “great sensibility.”
Bernier, who had been on a path to coast to another term as Olympic Committee president in an imminent election, expressed some surprise at his appointment.
“Life doesn’t allow for plans to be set in stone,” Bernier said. “This wasn’t on my life’s calendar.”
Still, he said he recognized the State Department helm as a “highly important” post that he will tackle with “enthusiasm.”