Interview with Mayor Villarreal

Mayor Ricardo Villarreal

Mayor Ricardo Villarreal

By Jesús Aguado

“A government that does not know its people is condemned to failure” newly-elected Mayor Ricardo Villarreal told Atención on June 8, 2015 when he was planning a trip to Germany.

He also said that he would return to every colonia and rural community that he visited during his campaign in order to fulfill his commitments with the people. After winning the mayoral race, Villarreal used the slogan “the best is yet to come”. Two years after the election, Mayor Villarreal granted an interview to this paper and he talked about the visible and invisible work that his administration has performed. He also shared with us that he is on a daily campaign and assured us that his name will be on the ballot in 2018.

Atención asked Villarreal if his motto, “The best is yet to come”, has been fulfilled since he started his administration on October 10, 2015. He answered “yes” and made a comparison between the present San Miguel and the San Miguel of two years ago. He assured us that the slogan has been fulfilled based on three central points: “We have generated economic development and, at the same time, more employment as people requested. And we made it possible by three courses of action: we have increased tourism by 50 percent. In 2016 we received 2, 200,000 visitors. The hotel occupancy increased by 10 percent. We have more businesses now and they are creating more positions. Public and private construction has increased and is the second-highest producer of jobs.

In 2015 I planned a trip to Germany and my visit attracted the company, Grupo ThyssenKrupp that now produces the best shock absorbers in Mexico. We also attracted Red Sun Farms and it has created 400 jobs in the community of St. Raphael.

A human being’s best assets are independence and money in the pocket. There is still much to be done and the challenge now is to improve education for children and young adults and to train employees better for the jobs that already exist. In educational affairs we have handed out 45 pairs of shoes, school supplies, scholarships, and bicycles to motivate students. My administration has renovated 125 schools. We now have 16 new Telebachilleratos (preparatory schools) and our young people are already using those schools.

Through our Social Development we have supported better housing for people by supplying roofs, floors, and we have constructed 200 new houses for those most in need. My administration has handed out more than 8,000 solar heaters so that families can save on gas and electricity and we have provided potable water and electricity for 2,500 families. We have also paved 66 streets in rural and urban areas and have improved more than 50 kilometers of rural roads” commented Mayor Villarreal.

He also mentioned the opening of the new slaughterhouse and the closing of the old one where the biggest Community Center in the state of Guanjuato—Cuevitas—is already operating. Villarreal added that 30 public spaces have been opened, one of them in the Colonia Allende, while assuring us that not a single peso had been invested in that Colonia since 1979. Now “children and young people in this complicated and conflictive” neighborhood have access to sports and culture. “If a child goes to school, exercises, and takes culture lessons, he will not be dragged into illegal activities”. He said that his best success has come with the reconstruction of the Boulevard de la Conspiración, improvements in the Libramiento Manuel Zavala, and the construction of the four lanes from the Pípila Traffic Circle to the Salida a Dolores. He also commented on the opening of Foro San Miguel.

What is Coming Next?

In Commerce and the New Image of the Avenida Guadalupe

Mayor Villarreal said that with the construction of Plaza San Miguel, the tianguis next to the San Juan de Dios market, which is in the Historic Center, will disappear and the space will be more appealing. He commented that arches have been constructed to improve the image of the San Juan de Dios Market, which by next year will have a second story.

More than 20 years ago a portion of Las Cachinches creek was covered with concrete slabs, and a “market” was built there on Avenida Guadalupe. The stands are made of cardboard, canvas and metal sheets. Villarreal’s project is to begin the construction of arches facing Avenida Guadalupe in order to offer a better view to locals and visitors. “All the stands made from canvas and cardboard will disappear” he declared, and the construction of the new image will begin soon. In upper San Miguel, at the Tuesday Market site, the first—of four—areas will be roofed-in and the parking area will be paved. According to the mayor, commerce has been ignored by the government for many years and now it is going to be included in projects.

Public Work

Mayor Ricardo Villarreal said that his administration will keep working to attract investments, generating confidence among entrepreuneurs to attract them to the city, and in the end, the new companies will give support to the city’s economy over the next ten years.

The Public Works and Social Development Departments will pave 80 more streets in the city and rural communities; construct at least five bridges to put an end to the isolation of communities during the rainy season, and San Miguel will have two new exits. Villarreal was pleased to announce that a new boulevard with four lanes is under construction to connect the road to Alcocer with the Patrimonio traffic circle. Calle Bordo will be paved and it will connect at least four neighborhoods with the road to Dr. Mora.

A Campaigning Mayor

For the first time in Mexico after the triumph of the revolution (1917), mayors, local and federal deputies, will be able to be reelected. The State Congress still has to approve the law in Guanjuato. We asked Villarreal if he is campaigning to be reelected. The Mayor responded that politicians ought to be in constant campaign mode and we should get rid of the old idea that they just visit the rural communities and neighborhoods when they need the vote and, after winning the election, they never return. “That was always the complaint of the people. I visit at least 10 communities per week and in each of those I always cut the ribbon for a new project. I am working hard and fulfilling my commitments. I am campaigning but, under the regulations of my party, the law from the state congress and the citizens will decide what happens to me in 2018. But there is something that I can tell you in advance, my name will be on the ballot.” Nevertheless Villarreal did not indicate if he would seek reelection or a different post. What he said was “I will keep working hard to give results to my people.”

Is there anything to be improved in the administration?

Villarreal said, with no hesitation, that the times of public works in progress could be improved, but that it is not the local government’s fault, but rather the fault of the construction companies. However he said that for Villarreal’s administration, quality is more important than speed. In addition, he commented that this 2015-2018 administration has invested the public budget to benefit the residents of the city and that is why, in just one year and a half, this local government has had more public works completed than the two previous administrations. Ricardo Villarreal qualifies himself as a mayor who listens to his people and for that reason, he has improved the dialog with citizens, and thus decides on projects that are good for the city. “I am working; I am learning; I love this position with a passion; and it requires all my attention.”

Can Safety Be Improved?

According to Villarreal, safety is constantly improving. He said that now there are better-paid police officers and in addition, they have more equipment and patrol cars. He complained that, regardless of the investment of 100 million pesos by the state government to improve safety, the local administration in the past did not even construct a C4 (Center of Command, Communications and Computing) to monitor the 216 surveillance cameras in San Miguel. Now they are being monitored and a reputable Center is under construction. It will be in operation early next year. The C4 will be good for preventing crime and will enable the police to act before the fact, and not after, he said. He added that during his administration more people have been arrested for major crimes and he emphasized that in the previous administrations there were more kidnappings. In his administration there has been just one kidnapping recorded and the victim has been released.

Is the promotion of San Miguel to visitors excessive?

“My commitment is to generate employment and opportunities for everybody. If there are no visitors, the city’s economy would collapse. We cannot stop promoting San Miguel, but we can take measures to guarantee the quality of life of Sanmiguelenses and to regulate the experiences that San Miguel has to offer for visitors. In the weeks to come, we will approve the Mobility Plan and we will include a Citizens’ Council to ensure it is fulfilled.

 

 

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