Johnny Araya engineers a return as San José mayor

Johnny Araya Monge came back from the political dead Sunday to regain the mayor’s job in San Jose’s central canton.

Araya and his new political party Alianza Por San José captured 40.3 percent of the vote, based on 310 of 347 polling places. The second-place candidate had but 16 percent of the 53,564 valid vote cases. The Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones said 73.6 percent of the eligible voters did not go to the polls.

Araya had been mayor for 20 years until he embarked on a run for president under the Liberación Nacional banner. He surprised his fellow party members when he dropped out of runoff with the man who became the current president, Luis Guillermo Solís.

He stitched together a coalition of friends, associates and business leaders to create the Alianza party. He was heavily favored although his campaign feared voter confusion between Araya and his former Liberación party.

Liberación continued to dominate municipal politics. The party captured or held onto 47 of 81 mayoral positions Sunday.

That was 12 fewer than what the party held going into the election.

A full list of results by canton is HERE!

In the Alajuela central canton, Roberto Thompson of Liberación, garners 59.6 percent of the vote based on 290 of 312 polling places.

Arnoldo Barahona of the Yunta Progresista Escazuceña won 61.9 percent of the votes in

57 of 66 voting places that were reported.

In Atenas, five years after being removed from office on the recommendation of the comptroller general, Wilberth Aguilar Gatjens of the Partido Unidad Social Cristiana will return as mayor.

Gatjens bested his closest opponent Victor Alpizar Castro of the Partido Acción Ciudadana in a closer race than expected, 30 percent to 27 percent.

Aguilar was Atenas mayor from 2007 to 2011 before the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones took away his credentials for allegedly authorizing payments to build sidewalks and a park irrigation system that were never built.

Aguilar has always maintained his innocence and appealed his censure.

Aguilar replaces outgoing mayor Querima Bérmudez Villegas, who replaced Aguilar after he was removed from office.  

Polling places are like a fiesta in Costa Rica with political parties setting up booths for a last-minute bid for support.

Polling places are like a fiesta in Costa Rica with political parties setting up booths for a last-minute bid for support.

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