The mayor who dreamed of a city without limits

The mayor who dreamed of a city without limits

In these times in which dialogue is interpreted as a shield of preconceived arguments behind which to entrench a disinterest in sincere debate, the voice of Jerónimo Saavedra, a politician willing to honor the word and its ways, is extinguished. His reasoning was plagued by the silences that every dialogue needs to understand the other’s position.

Convinced of the power of dialogue, his mandate was the example of this position. In the midst of Zapatero’s wave, he overflowed with spirit when forming a government with Nardy Barrios. Although he obtained enough votes to govern alone, he was the third mayor with the most votes after José Manuel Soria, on two occasions, and Pepa Luzardot extended his hand to Compromiso por Gran Canaria. The differences between Saavedra and Barrios regarding the urban planning of the city ended up dynamiting the government pact, but the relationship between the two remained unscathed by that shock wave that the two politicians always limited to the strictly political sphere. Despite their differences on the Canódromo plot, on the proposal to create a hotel in El Rincón or the slowness in removing the La Cícer electrical substation, both continued to cultivate their relationship and mutual respect, to the point that just a few weeks ago They were seen eating in a restaurant in Triana, in animated conversation.

  • At that age, Jerónimo Saavedra died in his home in Vegueta.
    His death caused a great surprise in Canarian society because until Monday he maintained several contacts with acquaintances with complete normality.

  • 2018
    That year he retired from public life, after a political life that kept him active for 46 years.

His political stature was always respected by everyone, except for one unpleasant case of personal attack. In the 2007 elections, Pepa Luzardo, who arrived at the election as mayor, had been warned that her chances of repeating her role would be diminished if Saavedra were the candidate. That’s how it happened. And the city changed its absolute majority, from the PP to the PSOE. As she would do four years later to strip him of the baton and hand it over to Juan José Cardona.

REACTIONCarolina Darias Mayor

The three days of mourning that the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria City Council has decreed to mourn his memory in the Golden Hall of the Town Hall will serve not only to say goodbye to him but to honor the memory of this mayor who received its highest honor from Spanish Freemasonry. decoration, one that is only reserved for sovereigns, heads of state and personalities who stand out for their work for the good of humanity or the development of civic freedoms and education.

Like any administration, his mandate had lights and shadows, such as the partial privatization plan for Municipal Buses that was finally annulled, but there are features of the current city that can be traced back to those years. Perhaps the two most decisive achievements were, firstly, the adaptation of the General Municipal Planning Plan to the Consolidated Text of the Territorial Planning Laws – baptized as the emergency plan – and, secondly, the hydraulic ambition, with a good number of actions that served to connect housing centers and neighborhoods that until then were still not linked to the sewer network.

These were difficult times for the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria City Council. The crisis that settled in Spain hit not only with the mandate of Jerónimo Saavedra but also with the following corporation.

Despite everything, the city received a rain of millions thanks to the famous Zapatero plans, which also allowed us to delve deeper into the improvement of the sanitation and supply network. “There has never been such an important economic injection in water matters,” recalls Néstor Hernández, who at the time was Councilor for Urban Planning, “and he did it even though he was aware that opening the city’s veins would take away votes.”

“He was the mayor of small works,” says the then Youth Councilor, Isabel Mena, “but time will put Jerónimo Saavedra in his place because he was the first mayor capable of having a global vision that combined with the approach of the peripheral neighborhoods.

The first measures to improve the mobility of the cliffs were also born during that mandate, although the escalators that were installed did not work as they should. And until the last mandate, these media were not given continuity.

His humanistic vocation and vast cultural knowledge were also used by Jerónimo Saavedra in urban management, trying to bring different cultural manifestations closer to the districts. However, his great effort, the declaration of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria as a European cultural city in 2016, was frustrated. “It was for political reasons,” Nardy Barrios recalls of that selection process that ended up winning Donostia, “Jerónimo (Saavedra) understood that our city could play that role from the distance and the insularity.”

But that illusion I had has not died. Currently, the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria City Council has taken up the idea of ​​and is now committed to achieving this recognition in 2031.

Its connection with the world of culture did not stop in the sea that surrounds our islands. He knew firsthand the impressionist works of the Hermitage; the best musical performances… Even one of his collaborators got quite scared when he received calls from members of the Royal Family to comment on the latest opera at the Teatro Real, of which he was a member of its board.

The aspiration to use the Manuel Lois also took shape at that time. Under the title ‘Parque de Las Creaciones’, an environmental, artistic and social project was proposed in which around five million euros were invested. The proposal did not prosper and at the moment the old barracks is being used as a rehearsal place for the murgas. Another part will become the new shooting gallery of the Local Police.

It also left its mark on the educational landscape by promoting five municipal early childhood education schools, which currently allows citizens to have more than 1,200 places in public daycare centers.

The concept of public participation begins to take shape during his mandate. Proa 2020 was a strategy agreed upon by various social agents. There, ideas were outlined such as the Salto del Negro ecopark, the renaturalization of the ravines, the healthy city, the recovery of the Naval Base for citizen use…

The City Council of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria issued a statement yesterday in which it “deeply regretted the death of Jerónimo Saavedra.” The mayor, Carolina Darias, who was government director of the Urban Planning and Housing area in that mandate, expressed her regret for the death of “a man committed to his time and also to the way of life that she had always had.” believed.”

The city said its last goodbye to him in the Town Hall, the official headquarters of the City Council that he himself inaugurated after nine years closed. His body rested last night in the same Golden Hall that so many times echoed his words and his capacity for dialogue and negotiation. The remains of him returned to the initial verb with which a life of understanding began.


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