The first woman to assume the Mayor’s Office of Jerez (two decades since that milestone), María José García-Pelayo decided in August 2022 to accept the challenge of her party and return to the arena of municipalism. A trench (they say the most complicated that exists) that is not alien to him and “passes me.” Twice mayor of Jerez, one by the hand of Pedro Pacheco and another with an absolute majority, she changes the “second parts were never good” for “the third time is the charm” to lead a project of change that “is urgent” for a city on which the slabs of being the second with the highest debt in Spain and the fourth in unemployment figures weigh.
Excited, convinced that the city “cannot wait any longer” and sure of the complicity of the Board to carry out her project, the popular candidate demands the majority support of the people of Jerez to “return Jerez to the place it deserves”.
They say second parts were never good.
Well, I think the third time’s the charm, since I was mayor with an absolute majority and then I won again and a left-wing pact prevented me from governing. Now I aspire to have a large majority that allows us to be at the forefront of the city again.
What does it take someone like you, with a long political career, to look back to aspire to the government of a city that bears the second largest debt in Spain and is the fourth in number of unemployed?
I am more excited than ever and, furthermore, I feel more supported than ever. First, by the citizens, who transmit to me every day their desire for change and their weariness of “sanchismo”. And, secondly, for my colleagues from the Junta de Andalucía, who constantly encourage me. I have no doubt that with your support and with that of the next Spanish Government of the PP, Jerez will stop being at the tail of everything.
What differences do you find between the Jerez that governed until 2015 and the current one?
The truth is that, after eight years of socialist government, it is still the same as I left it. I feel like I’m taking a time travel. The city continues with the same problems but aggravated. It is sad to contemplate a dirty city, with buses that are junk and that everyone says is abandoned. And, against this, the eternal excuse of the debt, which cannot be stretched like chewing gum for another four years. Jerez must be moved forward despite it so that it leaves those slabs of unemployment and debt behind.
You speak of a plan for the city (consisting of 400 measures) and not of an electoral program, why?
What we want to convey to the people of Jerez is that we are aware that the city is not built in a single day. Hence, we are talking about a city plan that is the result of the work of all these years, in which we have maintained constant contact with citizens, groups, institutions, etc., collecting their proposals, and the important experience of government and knowledge that we accumulate around the city. A city plan that traces a road map around the Jerez that we want. A city that has jobs, but above all a city with quality public services, which is something that citizens demand and miss.
Are you clear about where you are going to start managing that government of change?
It is not about one or two first measures. The first thing I will do, because the situation requires it, is to take the pulse of the city from within. Knowing in depth the economic reality, since the Sanchista government tends to hide the reality of the figures, and then I will see what situation the public service contracts are in, the reality of social services, etc.
Faced with debt and unemployment, the only answer is wealth generation. How do you envision economic development in the future?
Despite the hard inheritance that we are going to receive, we are lucky that Jerez has a lot of wealth, part of it even yet to be discovered. It escapes no one that we have a lot to say about tourism development. The sector brings me up to 24 reasons to visit us (sports, wine, gastronomy…); potential that we should and are going to take advantage of. We have 25 rural towns and we are the sixth city with the most land. Territory that, in part, must be converted into an urbanized industrial area so that companies have the facilities to grow.