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Incoming City Council To Be More Politically Diverse

By Jesús Aguado

The San Miguel de Allende City Council that will be sworn in on October 10 will be well balanced to make decisions. Politically, the council will be more diverse than previous ones, since it includes a member of the party SOMOS; a member from the Partido Verde (Green Party); two aldermen representing the Movimiento de Regeneración Nacional (National Regeneration Movement Party), known as MORENA; one from Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party); and one from the Nueva Alianza (New Alliance) Party. However, the head of the city council seat, as well as that of the Assistant Mayor and four council members, will be filled by the Partido Acción Nacional (National Action Party), known as PAN. In total, including the mayor and the Assistant Mayor, twelve people serve on the city council.

PAN won the majority vote in municipal elections on July 1 and PAN politician Luis Alberto Villarreal was elected mayor.

The council is defined by and functions according to the precepts of Municipal Organic Law (which establishes the way in which municipal government is formed and how it operates, including how often the government meets in session. Municipal Organic Law also dictates which types of council votes can pass with a simple majority (half of the votes plus one; and which must pass with a qualified majority (in this case, a two-thirds majority).

PAN, with four council members, has a simple majority in the council by default (assuming all PAN council members vote as a bloc). However, votes requiring a qualified majority will require the support of eight council members.

The Municipal Organic Law is also clear about ties: tie-breaking votes are cast by the mayor. So, therefore, one can foresee the outcome of many such votes.

Today in Atención, we present the profiles of the elected officials who will for the next three years be making decisions that impact, for better or for worse, San Miguel residents. It should be noted that all titles in the headings are pending the transfer of power on October 10. A public sworn in will take place at 6pm on October 10 at the Jardín Principal.

Mayor Luis Alberto Villareal García (PAN)

Villarreal has been a member of the Congreso de la Unión (México’s bicameral federal legislative body) for 12 consecutive years and mayor of San Miguel de Allende for one term. Luis Alberto Villareal sought again the opportunity to direct the destiny of the city, and he accomplished it. In a previous interview, he told Atención: “Being mayor [2003–2006] was one of the most enriching and exciting experiences, the most privileged experience I have had.”  Villarreal now says that he has more experience, more vision and better skills, and the same passion and desire to develop San Miguel de Allende.

Villareal is a law school graduate of Universidad Lasallista Benavente—where he was the first student president, uniting the students and the faculty members. He attended universities in the United States and Spain and studied marketing, political communications, and campaign management. He did his postgraduate studies at institutions such as the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Germany and the Partido Democrata Cristiano foundation, which devotes itself to public service. According to Villarreal, “They prepare the members of their party to serve the party and society adequately once they become public officials.”

City Attorney Verónica Agundis Estrada (PAN)

Verónica Agundis Estrada was born in San Miguel. Her grandfather was one of the first doctors in the city, Jesús Agundis. When she was 17, she represented the state in a beauty contest as Miss Tourism. “I will always be proud of this because I traveled all over the republic and I learned much representing the state,” she said.

She was news production manager for Televisión Azteca Bajío and also worked in the communications department of the state government. In 2005, she was invited to become part of the team of Luis Alberrto Villareal García when he was mayor of San Miguel. Agundis Estrada joined as the director of the Education and Culture department. A year later, this department was able to bring the first public university (UTSMA) to the city and the second government preparatoria(high school).

For nine years, she worked as director of Luis Alberto Villarreal’s Casa de Enlace (while Villarreal served in the Senate and later at the chamber of deputies) also with his brother Ricardo Villarreal (most recently mayor of San Miguel but then a Representative in the Chamber of Deputies), and state congressman Óscar Arroyo.

In 2015, she was invited to run for Representative to the Second Federal District in the Chamber of Deputies, a seat she won thanks to the support of five municipalities. Agundis Estrada returns to San Miguel as the newly elected San Miguel city attorney to work with residents so that their identity will not be lost.

“We’ve had 15 invasions by people who come from outside. We are a place with open doors. In spite of the expat community, the city maintains its essence. Many great works are pending. But one has to deal with details that make a difference, to return to one’s roots, to the people. Everyone is welcome in San Miguel, but we cannot allow that [some] people don’t feel part of the city.”

As city attorney, she said she will work for everyone—those who were born here, those who came and stayed, and those still to come.

Council Member Laura Hernández González (MORENA)

Laura González Hernández (September 21, 1981) is a San Miguel resident raised in a traditional family. She has two brothers and four sisters. She is a lawyer with a master’s degree in penal process law. She is also a teacher, both at the high school and the college level. When she was 19 years old, she was the secretary for the board of directors at Preparatoria El Pípila, and this is where she met Mayor Óscar Arroyo (2000-2003), she applied for a post in his administration. She became the assistant in the Liaison Office to the Secretary of Foreign Relations. Later, politician Manuel Rosas invited her to join the youth movement of the Partido de la Revolución Democrática (Democratic Revolution Party). In this party, she became a city council member during the administration of Luz María Nuñez Flores (2009–2012).

When Mauricio Trejo became mayor, González created operation manuals and worked on regulation projects from the Dirección de Mejora Regulatoria (Direction for the Improvement of Regulations) during the term of 2012–2015. She has dedicated the last three years of the 2015-2018 term to coordinating the regional branch of the federal program PROSPERA, which serves five municipalities. She told Atención that when she was a city council member, what was most important for her was to work closely with people, to get to know their needs, to take care of them and to channel them. “In the city council, I made reasoned decisions,” she said, adding that she will continue to do so when she serves on the city council for 2018-2021. Her decisions will be based on what benefits San Miguel residents. Finally, she stated, once she has been sworn in, she will work on reviewing and analyzing city contracts, such as the contract for trash collection, the pending increase of public transportation fees, development projects—to check that they have their required permits and legal clearances—and the metered parking management contract. González also remarked that she will renounce any excessive privileges that she could have as an official.

Council Member Cristóbal Olvera (MORENA)

Cristobal Olvera (February 27, 1980) was born in San Miguel. His grandparents were among the first artisans in the city. As a matter of fact, Olvera told us, where the current store Artes de Méxicois now located on Calzada de la Aurora is where the old bus station (Central de Autobuses) used to be.

In December, Olvera will be completing his degree in business administration at the Universidad del Valle de México. Olvera went to the United States when he was 13, and learned English while doing part of his high school studies there. He then returned to San Miguel and created his own import-export business. “My grandparents were already exporting, especially to the United States. They did it by train.”

His business prospered, and he forgot about studies, dropping out before graduation, but he will now be finishing them this year. He believes that the corrupt and vicious government system can be changed from within for the benefit of the citizens.

Olvera appeared on the scene in 2015 as a young candidate, in a new political party, the Humanist Party. He did not win the mayoral election, but he was able to place a member on the city council, backed by more than 5,000 votes.

He told us that he will work intently to return the system to the citizens and to obtain agreements that will benefit the population. Above all, he will pay special attention to make sure that the growth of San Miguel is orderly, and that it does not suffer what happened to Cuernavaca or Acapulco, places that used to be jewels of tourism.

Council Member, Green Party

After the election this past July 1, political parties like SOMOS, Better Times for San Miguel de Allende, and the coalition Together We Will Make History petitioned the state electoral authority to cancel the results of the election, claiming several inconsistences like the alleged purchase of votes by the winning party, the Partido Acción Nacional (PAN).

The electoral authority cancelled more than 20 voting polls, but it did not nullify the election. A regional court in Monterrey, Nuevo León ordered the State Electoral Institute to nullify the certification of Green Party councilor-elect Alan Romo. In order to maintain the political balance of on the city council, the State Electoral Institute also ruled to appoint a replacement councilor from the Green Party. The parties who filed the suit can appeal the decision in federal court. Atención’s attempts to contact members of the involved parties to ask if they would pursue further legal action were unsuccessful. However, decertified councilor Alan Romo did say that he will fight for his post in federal court.

Council Member Humberto Campos (Nueva Alianza)

Humberto Campos (July 11, 1972) has a degree in business and tourism administration, and a master’s degree in public administration. He worked in Texas, where he learned English. When he returned to México, he worked for a financial institution in which he held various positions, which had him traveling around the country. Currently he is the coordinator of audits in the comptroller’s office for the municipal administration. He entered public life in 2009, when he was invited to run for local deputy under Nueva Alianza. In 2012, he was named president of that party. In 2015, he ran for the city council but did not win.

He says the work with Nueva Alianza lately was hard but that the representation he will have in the council is fair. The challenge will be to do the work well, he said. There should be austerity, but this is also a great educational infrastructure, he said. Regarding the matter of metered parking, he says it can be reviewed so that at least there would be a one free hour of parking for San Miguel residents.

Pavel Hernández, PAN

The family of Pavel Hernández arrived in San Miguel in 1974, and he was born in 1975, though not San Miguel.

“I was born in Guadalajara because in San Miguel there were no maternity clinics yet,” he said. He attended various public and private primary and secondary schools in San Miguel, and his prepatoriaand professional education were in Querétaro, at the Universidad del Valle de México. He has a degree in marketing because, he says, “I always liked publicity, sales, customer service. But always, I had a vision of starting my own business.”

He moved into the purchase and sale of construction materials and in 2002 bought a Honda dealership to San Miguel. He was invited many times to participate in politics but did not accept until he decided to join the campaign of Mayor Ricardo Villareal. He was elected to and still holds the post of assistant mayor until the final minutes of October 9, at which he points he will move on to serve again on the city council, but as an alderman. In his work as assistant mayor, he assures us that he respected the law and said that the agreements he approved were for the benefit of citizens. He cited the trash collection concession and the metered parking issue as examples.

“Because the government is not a business enterprise, it needs to have experts deal with these issues.” The decisions, he said, would be for the benefit of all. His project for the new administration is to create a platform for requests and offers of services (jobs), but also to train future plumbers, fountain builders, gardners, stone and brick masons,carpenters, and iron workers.

Helio Bastien, SOMOS

Bastien arrived in San Miguel de Allende in 1982, and he is a plant-production agricultural engineer with a specialty in ethnobotany. He came to public life during the administration of Mayor Luz Maria Nuñez Flores, when he was named director of ecology. He said that his major accomplishment was the creation of the first land use and ecology program in the whole state. He was also instrumental in creating the regulations for gardens in the city, and the regulations for the area of conservation at the Jardín Botánico. He also initiated the construction of the municipal animal hospital.

His challenge on the council, he said, will be to create an infrastructure to promote orderly growth in San Miguel, in a way that is beneficial to the community. On the issue of security, the challenge is to create public confidence in the police “to make public security a reality, with real results.” Regarding the dumping of solid wastes, he said it’s important to check the contract that privatized the collection of garbage.

Finally, Bastien remarked that they need to review the conditions of the contract with the company hired to manage metered parking in the Historic Center, “so that there is transparency with the money and so it is not given to a private company, but to the municipality. There should an analysis of a real mobility program and whether it is true that parking meters are necessary. There is a lot to be studied and analyzed on this issue, with attention, care, and benefit to the citizens.”

Patricia Villa, PAN

The assistant to this council member, who has been elected once again, was unable to give us an interview.

Felipe Tapia, PAN We were unable to contact Mr Tapia for an interview.

Luz Maria Gutierrez, PAN(Will send the information)

Maria Helena Vazquez, PRI (Interview on Tuesday)

 

 

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