The day before he takes office, Cuenca Mayor-elect Marcelo Cabrera continues to complain that he did not receive the information he had requested from the administration of out-going mayor Paúl Granda.
“Frankly, the transition period was a waste of time,” Cabrera said. “We did not get the reports and contracts we requested, which means we will have to evaluate these once the new term begins.”
An area of top concern, says Cabrera, is technical information and contracts for the new light rail system, Tranvía de los Cuatro Rios. “We asked many times for this and never received it,” he says. “All be received were PowerPoint files that were part of the public relations.” Cabrera has suggested that some of the construction contracts may not meet legal standards.
The new mayor has suggested he may stop the tram project temporarily until his administration can review technical reports and contracts. He repeated, however, that he supports the project and has even suggested adding a second line. “The problem has been poor communication between the municipality and the people who are affected by the construction,” he said. “We will work with the project technicians to improve this.”
On the installation of taxi meters, Cabrera says any questions about it are moot. “It is now the law that meters must be in all city taxis by May 31. I support this but will work with citizens and the taxi unions to develop a new fare schedule.”
Cabrera says that the entire issue of transportation will be a priority for his administration. “Today, the road situation in Cuenca is in chaos, especially in the historic center,” he says. “We must work hard to get the situation under control. We need to completely rethink the transportation plan.” One of his proposals, left over from his previous term of mayor from 2005 to 2009, is a six-lane freeway on the edge of the city.
Part of the review at the beginning of his term, Cabrera says, is to examine the city’s finances. During the campaign, he charged that Granda had mismaged city accounts, often spending more than was budgeted.
Other priorities, Cabrera says, are building low income housing units, law enforcement, making city government more transparent and gender equity.
Cabrera says he plans to work with the national government in Quito but says his first priority is to the citizens of Cuenca. “I don’t care anything about party politics and party loyalties,” he says. “I will work with anyone to improve this city.”
Not only will Cabrera need to work with the federal government, he will have to deal with with a Cuenca city council dominated by members of Pais, the party of President Rafael Correa and Granda.
“Yes, we will need to work with all factions of the government. That is my intention.”
At a Tuesday press conference, Cabrera introduced his administrative team. Unlike Granda, who surrounded himself with 20- and 30-somethings, Cabrera’s picks are mostly in their 40s, 50s and 60s.
Photo caption: Paúl Granda and Mercelo Cabrera after the election.