Puerto Rico has no senators and no voting members in the House of Representatives. Instead, the territory has a Resident Commissioner. The current Resident Commissioner is Pedro Pierluisi, a strong supporter of statehood. The Resident Commissioner can draft laws and serve on committees, but cannot vote on laws — even the laws he or she drafted.
This is a very limited voice in Congress, but it is the only voice that Puerto Rico has, so this person is an important individual in Puerto Rico’s leadership.
In January 2017, the new Resident Commissioner will be Jenniffer Gonzalez. She is the current Chairperson of the Puerto Rico Republican Party and has held leadership positions in Puerto Rico for a decade and a half. She was elected as the representative of the Fourth District of San Juan in 2002 at the age of 25, making her the youngest person ever elected to that position. She moved into leadership positions in the New Progressive Party (PNP), where she has worked in support of Puerto Rican veterans, children with special needs, cyber security, and many other key issues.
When Gonzalez was elected Speaker of the House in 2008, she was once again the youngest person ever to hold the position. She was one of the youngest to hold such a position when all 50 states are included, as well.
In her position in the Puerto Rico House of Representatives, Gonzalez provided leadership for the 2012 plebiscite, in which the voters of Puerto Rico expressed their support for statehood.
Gonzalez will be the youngest person ever to hold the post of Resident Commissioner, and the first woman to do so. The GOP.com website says, “Jenniffer González-Colón is a role model for young Latino women everywhere.” They said further, “Jenniffer has learned to work with colleagues from all over the political spectrum.” This skill will help Gonzalez to champion statehood for Puerto Rico during her tenure in Congress.