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New Cuenca mayor Paul Granda promises an ‘activist’ administration; takes aim at downtown congestion

Both winner and the loser in Cuenca’s mayoral election agree that it was the strength of President Rafael Correa’s reelection victory that forced a change at city all. Thirty-six-year-old Paul Granda, a political newcomer and member of Correa’s National Alliance party unseated incumbent Marcelo Cabrera by a wide margin in Sunday’s election.

According to Granda, "Cabrera was the expression of the traditional political parties, and the old way of doing things. Voters wanted the kind of change that President Correa and I support.”

Cabrera said the momentum of Correa’s Alliance party was simply too much for his campaign to overcome. "We were fighting against an impressive electoral machine and against overwhelming support for President Correa.” The outgoing mayor expressed gratitude to his voters and passed on “good wishes” to Granda. “I sincerely hope he is able to deliver on the promises he made.”

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Granda, a Cuenca native, holds an Ecuadorian law degree as well as public administration and public management degrees from universities in Spain. During the campaign he criticized Cabrera for lack of leadership on key issues including public housing and transportation and promised to be an activist in pushing a new agenda.

Grands says that improving traffic flow and public safety in Cuenca’s historic district is one of his priorities. During the campaign, he accused Cabrera for being too “cozy” with bus companies and taxi unions and said he would work to reduce the number of buses and taxis in the district. He also advocated the use of smaller, less polluting buses in the downtown area.

Photo caption: New Cuenca mayor Paul Granda; photo credit: El Mercurio