Ana Rosa Mena (PSOE) is serving more than half a term as the first woman to become mayor of Tegueste, where, in June 2019, she raised the baton with a pact between PSOE, Sí se puede, United for Tegueste- We can and Now Tegueste-NC, snatching more than 30 years of government in the municipality from the Canary Coalition (CC). More than two years that have been “very complicated”, he acknowledges, with a pandemic that is still going on, but which have meant “a new style of managing the municipality”. Mena emphasizes that, for the remainder of the mandate, “we want Tegueste to become a sustainable territory.” “For us it is very important to give future generations a better municipality, committed to the environment and well-being,” he emphasizes.
– After two and a half years of mandate, what balance do you make?
“Well, it’s been a very difficult two years. In the first place, because our arrival supposes a new style of managing the municipality, passing from a nationalist government with an absolute majority for decades, to another way of understanding politics and relations with our neighbors, with a group made up of four parties where dialogue and consensus is vital for our day to day. Then, the circumstances of the pandemic have conditioned everything, as well as the lack of key pieces in the organizational structure of our City Council, such as the lack of the secretary and the auditor, which has slowed down the execution of our projects. All this has conditioned this first half of the mandate, although little by little the situation is getting back on track and we have managed to launch interesting initiatives. I am personally confident that over the next two years we will see many fruits of the work done so far. We have had a lot of support from the municipal staff and from the group of councilors from the government team, who have worked tirelessly during this period”.
-How has it been and is it being to deal with a pandemic?
“The truth is that we have been with us for almost two years, but it seems that it has been with us all our lives and we have become accustomed to working with its conditioning factors. Fortunately, the companies and businesses of the municipality have been maintained and, even, we have improved a lot in terms of employment this last year. Our number of unemployed came to be above a thousand and we have now dropped from 900 unemployed people, which is great news. At a health level, the restrictions have been a serious setback for everyone, especially due to these swings in the level of infections, but I think that our people have been able to adapt and, together, we are overcoming the difficulties. In all this, the exemplary behavior of our people has played a fundamental role, as well as the dedication and professionalism of all the municipal staff, who together with the government team have done an exceptional job”.
-How is the government pact working?
“Our government pact has implemented another way of governing, very different from the style of the nationalist mayors of recent years. We are a diverse team, but cohesive, progressive and eager to do things, always with dialogue and consensus, away from personalities. I think that our people are perceiving that, they are excited about the change and our way of working”.
-In that sense, how do you perceive that the neighbors have received the change after 30 years of CC government?
“I think very well, because in reality the change was requested by the neighbors at the polls. The inhabitants of our municipality are verifying that our City Council has opened doors and windows. This is the home of all the teguesteras, who come to talk to us for anything they need, to share their worries and concerns with us. They tell me that before they didn’t have the option to present their problems, whereas now we listen to them and talk to them. It is another way of dealing with local political life and I think that our people appreciate it and are very receptive”.
-What achievements stand out in these two and a half years?
“Well, within the circumstances marked by the pandemic, which have conditioned everything, I think we can present a good balance, with initiatives such as launching the neighborhood plan, consolidating the farmer’s market as an exemplary model and recognized throughout the world. Archipelago, carry out important infrastructures such as access to the cemetery or the asphalting of Valle Molina, or put the rehabilitation of the Center for Innovation and Technological Updating back on the agenda, after many years of neglect, for which a master plan is being worked on with new uses. It has been difficult and complicated, because we find ourselves in a municipal structure without some strategic positions, such as the comptroller, the secretary and the legal adviser. All this has prevented us from being faster in management and we have had to adapt to this precarious situation. Fortunately, for a month we already have an inspector and we share a secretary with another City Council, which is proving very important to gain dynamism and agility in management. Now we need to continue providing our City Council with certain key positions in some departments, which will allow us to carry out our projects. We also need more technical and qualified personnel to take control of important contracts such as the waste collection service, cleaning of public buildings or lighting”.
-What objectives have been set for the remainder of the mandate?
“Basically, to make everything that we have projected a reality, now that we already have that administrative support. We have several projects presented for the Next Generation funds, which, if they finally go ahead, will allow us to further consolidate the social and economic aspects of Tegueste. We are also very excited about being able to advance in the neighborhood plan, since it is something new and participatory. In general, we want Tegueste to become a sustainable territory that welcomes tourism that is respectful of our environment. We aspire to be a benchmark on the island of Tenerife, with various initiatives in the field of eco-agriculture, with composting initiatives, as well as projects for the recovery of agricultural land to attract young people. For us it is very important to give future generations a better municipality, committed to the environment and well-being, and for this we must make proper use of the environment and our natural resources. Along these lines, another issue that worries us a lot is sanitation, mainly in towns and neighborhoods of the municipality, many of which are sparsely populated and this complicates it even more, due to its high economic cost. This is the case of La Padilla and El Lomo, where we are looking for alternatives to solve it. In some areas, such as some of Pedro Álvarez, where there is a steep slope, we have opted for alternatives such as settling, natural purification. We have high hopes for projects of this type to solve specific difficulties in some neighbourhoods”.
-And what has happened to the Agua de Dios archaeological park project?
“Well, after many years of being paralyzed, we are finally going to be able to resume the works. The Government of the Canary Islands is going to finance us with more than 200,000 euros to finish the interpretation center building. This project has suffered several drawbacks. There was even a discrepancy between the Cabildo and the Government over the declaration of Asset of Cultural Interest (BIC), but it seems that everything is finally going to start rolling and I trust that it will soon be a reality.
-What is the current social and economic situation of the municipality?
“I think the situation is good. At the beginning of the pandemic we focused on caring for people. Our Department of Social Services has done a great job with the families that needed us. From Local Development we turn to small and medium businesses. All this has contributed to the fact that, at this time, our social and economic situation is good. But, in addition, other areas have also worked very well. In cultural matters, for example, we have had very high activity, despite the circumstances of the pandemic. In addition, the Casa de la Juventud has been remodeled and we are doing many things with the boys and girls of Tegueste. Likewise in the sports field, with the Canarian wrestling, football and basketball schools, increasing subsidies. With the artisans, giving them commercial support. Also from the Festival area, providing creative solutions to maintain our traditions and not leave behind professionals linked to entertainment and popular festivals. I think we have worked hard and that is being noticed in the general situation of the municipality”.