Puerto Rico's Governor Ricardo Rossello in New York, urges voter turnout

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- With Puerto Rico still reeling and struggling to recover nearly seven months after Hurricane Maria tore across the island, Governor Ricardo Rossello is a man on a mission.

The storm devastated the territory, and on Wednesday, Rossello arrived in New York with a plea for all those Puerto Ricans who left the island and settled on the mainland: Register to vote.

"The long-term view is that the policies that are in favor of Puerto Rico can get executed, and the only way we recognize that can happen is if we have a strong political structure," he told Eyewitness News anchor Joe Torres.

To help develop that structure, Rossello has launched a web-driven, non-partisan movement called "Poder," which means power. And with 5.6 million Puerto Ricans now scattered across all 50 states, they collectively have political power at the ballot box.

"Within the context of the mid-term elections, there is an opportunity now to make changes and to demonstrate that higher voter turnout of Puerto Ricans in different parts of the United States will mean different outcomes in those races," he said.

Aside from power and politics, Rossello still faces a colossal fiscal crisis and an island-wide storm recovery effort. Here's what he says he needs from the federal government:

--Less bureaucracy from FEMA
--More accessibility to federal dollars assigned to Puerto Rico's recovery
--Some special consideration for those who left the island but may want to return

"We're sort of in a pivot stage, where we've reached and are reaching normalcy," he said. "There's going to be a lot of funding coming to Puerto Rico and a lot of new opportunities. The new Puerto Rico that everybody has been talking about for decades, we can actually build it now."

And that's a reality many people can't wait to see.

Note: Joe Torres will be in Puerto Rico this weekend. You can watch his reports beginning Sunday night on Eyewitness News.

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