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By Shandra Keesecker-Rivero
The journey to this weekend’s swearing in of Prof. Gerardo Figueroa as Puerto Peñasco’s Mayor for the 2012-2015 period has been nearly as adventuresome and precarious as area roads following our recent rains. As described in the Letter from the Director in the September issue of JoinUs, following elections on July 1st and initial proclamations of Prof. Figueroa (of the PRI – Institutional Revolutionary Party) as the winner of the mayoral bout, this was then contested by the opposing candidate, Ernesto “Kiko” Munro, from the National Action Party (PAN). Following numerous legal procedures, the PAN candidate made his way through the Electoral Courts, from state, to regional, to federal, and in each case Prof. Figueroa’s win was confirmed by the courts. The most recent decision, coming from the Federal Electoral Courts, was handed down Sept. 13, just days before the new Mayor is to be sworn in on the 16th.
Earlier this week, on Monday Sept. 10th, outgoing mayor, Alejandro Zepeda Munro, presented his 3rd and final City Address from the common area of City Hall. The address, which normally takes place on Sept. 15th, had been moved so as not to interrupt the transfer of power on the 16th. During the address, Zepeda Munro detailed the various achievements of his administration and thanked everyone, from friends to family, colleagues, and supporters, for their help in working to make Puerto Peñasco “El Mejor Destino” – the Best Destination. He also expressed that despite his administration’s work in areas from road paving to higher education, there remains much to be done.
With the Federal court’s decision as to the local Mayoral elections, and the final Address of the outgoing Mayor, all would appear to be on course. Nevertheless, members from the Union of City Government Workers have been holding a type of sit-in at City Hall in recent days (and nights) calling for payment of contractual benefits, totaling over 1.3 million pesos (numerounoonline.com). While at first they did not seem to be allowing any city workers into the building, which admittedly complicates the end of one administration and the beginning of another, on Sept. 13th the peaceful protesters began to allow employees and municipal officials access to offices. These recent actions have led to the halting of different city services during the final week of Zepeda’s administration (most notably talked about on the radio are instances of delays in trash pick-up).
In the final days of the outgoing administration, Municipal Officials sent out a press release indicating they are taking steps to address outstanding payments for gasoline, uniforms, union fees, and other benefits. The administration adamantly stated they did not fall into a situation where they were not able to make numerous pay periods, as does occur in other municipalities, and so are disappointed and surprised with the Union’s actions.
In the meantime, City Hall is adorned with decorations for Saturday night’s Mexican Independence Day festivities, while red, white, and green streamers stretch across the street in anticipation of the community’s gathering for the traditional, yearly Grito. The new mayor, “el Profe” will be sworn in on the 16th. As the sun dries out puddles around the city, and clouds are exchanged once again for blue skies, we know everyone’s best intentions are for Puerto Peñasco as a whole.