Luis Alberto Villarreal, mayor of San Miguel de Allende, requested and was granted an indefinite leave of absence to pursue his candidacy for a second term as mayor. In an interview granted to Atención he acknowledged that as a democracy, city employees are free to join any political party. Villarreal also said that he is prepared for political attacks, and made it clear that he will be mayor again.
He commented that when he registered as a candidate for mayor under the umbrella of the PAN party, he made two announcements: that he would not participate in the precampaign process in order to continue his job as mayor; and that just prior to the start of official campaigning he would request a leave of absence from the City Council to ensure that he would not detract from his job. “I am convinced that Gonzalo González [Interim Mayor] has the experience and dedication to San Miguel de Allende to take the city along the right path,” he remarked.
Jesús Aguado: For months prior to the start of the electoral campaign you have donated your salary to various organizations. Will you ask the interim mayor to do the same?
Luis Alberto Villarreal: I do not believe in short-term electoral policies. I have invested my time in creating public policies and serving my city through the private sector. Through my bullfighting-related company we have donated up to two million pesos to the CADI of the DIF, which has nothing to do with the election. Also, I have supported some nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) with professional services. I have donated my salary because it has to do with solidarity, consistency, and to set an example. I am fortunate to live in San Miguel, where people lend a helping hand to those in need. The interim mayor’s decision of whether or not to donate his salary is personal.
JA: What is your message to opponents?
LAV: I do not know who you are talking about. I interact with the entire population [of SMA]. We will present a platform based on tangible proposals, an integral and inclusive proposal. You can say that your project is inclusive, but when city councilors campaigning with you are your employees or close friends, that is because civic leaders of the city did not want to support you. We will talk to everybody and respect their points of view. I will always work for the sake of sanmiguelenses.
JA: It is natural that city employees can be attracted to other political causes? Will they be able to get involved in any party with no consequence?
LAV: As a democrat, I believe in people’s freedom. This is not a dictatorship as it is at the national level.
JA: Are you ready for attacks from the other candidates or their supporters?
LAV: We are ready for whatever comes, and if they attack, we will hit back. [We expect] the attacks to be constant; they will portray the opponents’ true character.
We, on the other hand, will be proposing clear ideas to solve the problems we face. San Miguel has had a social debt for years toward many people. We have improved the infrastructure, and social and governmental programs, but it is not enough. There has not been enough time to come back from all the years of neglect from mayors who cannot be remembered for any particular project. We have long-term projects that ought to continue. For example, the UNAM campus is in San Miguel because we brought it here. We have the means and the commitment. That is what San Miguel deserves.
JA: What does San Miguel lack?
LAV: Everybody will be heard if they vote for us on June 6. All ideas, even if they come from other parties. We are not an army, or a group of entrepreneurs seeking to look after our own interests. We represent the people that acknowledge the work that we have done in the last year to fight COVID-19. Better times are ahead, and we will be the first city in Mexico to defeat the virus. I know the will and love of sanmiguelenses for their loved ones and for others.
JA: We will probably know the results of the June 6 election after 10pm. How will you take it?
LAV: As always, we are democrats and we accept when we win, but also when we lose. Defeats have a different taste from victories. I have had different experiences. I believe in the good judgement of the public. We will run a campaign that will gain the public’s confidence, and I believe they will reelect me. [When the new term starts] on October 10 we will begin an undertaking where investment, employment, and opportunities will flourish more than in any other municipality in Mexico. This investment will support indigenous peoples, migrants, tourists, the needy, everyone. We will generate opportunities for everybody.
JA: Your leave of absence is for an undetermined period. No matter the result, will you return and complete your term as mayor after June 6?
LAV: I have a commitment to the public that I took on when I was elected mayor on October 10, 2018. I will remain mayor until October 9 this year.
Villarreal urged the public to continue following health protocols with regard to COVID-19. “A better place for future generations is possible, and we are working on it,” he concluded.