Ramón Garcia, Mayor of Ribera de Arriba

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Testimonials for
Ramón Garcia
Mayor of Ribera de Arriba (Spain)

The winner and runner-ups of World Mayor 2014 will be chosen based on the number of nominations in relation to the size of their cities and, more importantly, on the persuasiveness and conviction of testimonials received during this year's World Mayor Project. Below we publish a selection of comments received to date about WM nominee Ramón Garcia, Mayor of Ribera de Arriba, Spain.

Comment: Ten years ago, José Ramón began a legal fight against the power station leading into their village since 1962 because he felt that it was not paying the taxes that are the responsibility under the law.

This caused him to have to face a number of problems:
• The power plant threatened to go elsewhere.
• Part of the town turned against him by the potential loss of jobs.
• He received threats and pressure from entrepreneurs in the area.
• He received pressure from the president of his own party (PSOE) in Asturias to paralyze demand.
• They threatened to take the planning powers of the municipality.
• They tried to buy him, offering his daughter a position of important work, but he said no.

The pressure caused him anxiety, not sleeping at night, until one day he had a hint of a heart attack. The doctor told him that his body had enough and told him that he should take a medical leave to recover. But if he ignored the doctor.

Finally, in 2012, a judge ruled in favor of José Ramón. As a result, the power station was forced to pay to the municipality more than 6 million euros and 700,000 euros in interest, instead of the initially planned EUR 1,650,000.

Since then, the mayor has invested that money in social policies: telecare for the elderly is free, there are grants for books and scholarships for college, there is financial aid for emergencies, free services to home, etc. In addition, the city council today has economic surplus. (By Francisco d C, Spain)

Comment: José Ramón García Saiz es alcalde de un municipio pequeño muy presionado por importantes intereses económicos. Gracias a su trabajo y tesón, consiguió importantes contrapartidas para sus conciudadanos, sin más armas que las de la ley y las del sentido común. Es un hombre honrado y valiente, un ejemplo a seguir. (By Manuel G R, Spain)

Comment: I have known José Ramón García since Mid 2013. He approached me as a representative of the regional university (I am the director for employability since 2008) because he wanted to put into good use the money that was obtained in his fight with the electric power company located in his municipality. He was seeking for ideas and told me about his fight against the company and the good financial situation of the municipality. He stressed that this money had to be put into good use for the benefit of the municipality. He has no formal university studies, but he is very well supported by his economic and legal advisors, whom he trusts to put into practice solutions for his neighbours. As an example social assistance for the elderly is free in the municipality. He decided to support people studying at the University (wherever this university was) by opening a call to subsidize university fees. And at this moment, he is really committed to set up a scheme to finance entrepreneurs to settle in the municipality in order to create new neighbours and rejuvenate the population. He has invested in very much needed communication infrastructure in a local surrounding that has both an elderly population and is a very geographically dispersed one. Very recently he was interviewed in a Spanish TV programme and you could see the real Mr. García there, without any make up or fake on his person.

In fact, I think Mr García is the kind of local community major, well connected to his neighbours, with no more political ambition than trying to help the local community where he has lived and worked since young and who has fought for the rights of their neighbours despite many pressures not to do so.

Small city mayors, usually are hidden by the small size and resources they do possess but when compared to other mayors in larger cities, these mayors are the politicians one would like to have because they are really committed to their citizens. (By Guillermo P-B, Spain)

Comment: Mantuvo una dura lucha con una empresa eléctrica para que pagara unos impuestos justos. Ganó en instancias judiciales y como consecuencia hubo en el Ayuntamiento un aumento importantísimo de ingresos. Como consecuencia se prestan a la población unos servicios sociales muy importantes que no se podrían lograr sin esos ingresos adicionales conseguidos. (By José M)

Comment: José Ramón Garcíais the best mayor in the world for fighting against the great economic power that damaged our city no matter what the personal impact. (By Carmen M R)

Comment: Por estar durante todos los años dedicados a la política, preocupándose por el interés general y el bien de los ciudadanos de su Ayuntamiento, alentando proyectos que generaron riqueza y manteniendo unas cuentas saneadas incluso en momentos de crisis, de corrupción y de empobrecimiento de valores. José Ramón con su buen hacer, honradez y esfuerzo nos hace pensar, que es el mejor alcalde del mundo 2014. (By Angel Mario S F, Spain)

Comment: I consider José Ramón Garcíais the best mayor in the world for his tireless fight for justice for their neighbors and against large adverse economic powers. (By Raul V Q)

Comment: Buen alcalde y mejor persona. Se merece un reconocimiento público. Siempre mirando por el bienestar del concejo y de sus gentes y eso es de agradecer teniendo en cuenta como está de corrompido todo lo que rodea a la política. La mayoría de los políticos deberían de tomar nota de Jose Ramón y seguramente cambiarían muchas cosas en este mundo. (By Lucia F M)

Comment: Ejemplo de honestidad y honradez, durante todo su mandato. Espejo donde se deberían de mirar la mayoría de los políticos. (By Belarmino F G, Ribera de Arriba)

Comment: La central térmica amenazó con irse a otra localidad.
Parte del pueblo se puso en su contra por la posible pérdida de puestos de trabajo. Recibió amenazas y presiones por parte de empresarios de la zona. Recibió presiones por parte del presidente de su propio partido (PSOE) en Asturias para que paralizara la demanda. Amenazaron con quitarle las competencias urbanísticas de su municipio. Intentaron comprarle „colocando‰ a su hija en un puesto de trabajo importante, pero él dijo que no. (By Hilario P, Spain)


World Mayor

The philanthropic City Mayors Foundation awards the World Mayor Prize every two years to a mayor who has made outstanding contributions to his / her community and has developed a vision for urban living and working that is relevant to towns and cities across the world. The Prize has been awarded since 2004.

Anyone voting for a mayor is also asked to consider whether his / her candidate is likely to agree to the City Mayors Code of Ethics. Mayors wishing to be considered for the World Mayor Prize will be asked to sign up to the Code.

Votes must be accompanied by a thoughtful supporting statement.

2014/15 Timetable
First-round nominations were accepted until the middle of May 2014. A longlist of 121 candidates was published on 22 May. A shortlist of 26 nominees was announced on 18 June 2014. A second round of voting will take place between now and the middle of October. The winner of the 2014 World Mayor Prize and other results of the World Mayor Project were announced on 3 February 2015.

The philanthropic City Mayors Foundation, the international think tank on urban affairs, organises the World Mayor Project and awards the World Mayor Prize. The Prize, which has been given since 2004, honours mayors with the vision, passion and skills to make their cities incredible places to live in, work in and visit. The World Mayor Project aims to show what outstanding mayors can achieve and raise their profiles nationally and internationally.

The organisers of the World Mayor Project are looking for city leaders who excel in qualities like: leadership and vision, management abilities and integrity, social and economic awareness, ability to provide security and to protect the environment as well as the will and ability to foster good relations between communities from different cultural, racial and social backgrounds. Mayors wishing to be considered for the World Mayor Prize will be asked to sign up to the City Mayors Code of Ethics.

The winner receives the artistically acclaimed World Mayor trophy, while the runner-up is given the World Mayor Commendation.

Winners and runners-up
2004 to 2014

In 2014: Winner: Naheed Nenshi (Calgary, Canada); First runner-up: Daniël Termont (Ghent, Belgium); Second runner-up: Tri Rismaharini (Surabaya, Indonesia)

In 2012: Winner: Iñaki Azkuna (Bilbao, Spain); Runner-up: Lisa Scaffidi (Perth, Australia); In third place: Joko Widodo (Surakarta, Indonesia)

In 2010: Winner: Marcelo Ebrard (Mexico City, Mexico); Runner-up: Mick Cornett (Oklahoma City, USA); In third place: Domenico Lucano (Riace, Italy)

In 2008: Winner: Helen Zille (Cape Town, South Africa); Runner up: Elmar Ledergerber (Zurich, Switzerland); In third place: Leopoldo López (Chacao, Venezuela)

In 2006: Winner: John So (Melbourne, Australia); Runner up: Job Cohen (Amsterdam, Netherland); In third place: Stephen Reed (Harrisburg, USA)

In 2005: Winner: Dora Bakoyannis (Athens, Greece); Runner-up: Hazel McCallion (Mississauga, Canada); In third place: Alvaro Arzú (Guatemala City, Guatemala)

In 2004: Winner: Edi Rama (Tirana, Albania); Runner-up: Andrés Manuel López Obrador (Mexico City, Mexico); In third place: Walter Veltroni (Rome, Italy)