He gained the advantage, striking first, then fell to second place, and when he it seemed he was down for the count, the margin narrowed again and he won in the last round. This is how the week after the elections on February 7th has been for Julio Viales Padilla, who was elected mayor of Liberia after the final count by the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE- Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones) on February 12th.
It has been a whirlwind of emotions, results, percentages, calls, counts and little sleep. The former regional director of MOPT, now a little calmer, spoke to The Voice of Guanacaste about the unexpected outcome of the municipal elections, in which he gained 147 votes more than the current mayor, Luis Gerardo Castañeda.
How is your health after so much uncertainty?
Better now. I got sick, my immune system was weakened and I caught the flu due to the stress.
Do you feel like the mayor of Liberia now?
Yes, the count conducted by the Supreme Electoral Court on Friday, [February 12th,] is final. It was a narrow but definite win by 147 votes.
So now you can celebrate without any doubts…
I did not want to have a celebration. We held a parade at the request of my people [from the political party]. But I don’t want to hold celebrations because it doesn’t seem to me to fit with the respect that we want to show to Liberians. Voting was very low. We need to recover the people who do not want to vote and don’t believe in politics.
Were you surprised by voter behavior?
What happened was very interesting. There is no denying that Luis Gerardo Castaneda is a man who has devoted his whole life to making television and radio programs. Beating Luis Gerardo is a feat. We beat him by offering a quality and knowledgeable candidate. In the end, that was what had enough weight. Also voter turnout was very low; only 13,000 Liberians voted.
What will your first decision be as mayor?
I would love to review the status of the municipal finances, human resources, operations and administrative capacity because there really are serious problems.
You are very familiar with the subject of roads. When are you going to work on them?
Hopefully short term. The budget has to be reviewed, modifications must be made and funds sought. I am already in discussions to take 50,000 cubic meters [of material] from MOPT for the foundations of the streets that we are going to pave, of which there are several, and they are in the government program. For example, the streets of Cañas Dulces, Quebrada Grande and the center of Liberia.
PLN won three regular council member positions. What are you going to do to get a consensus with the other four council members in the municipal council?
The Liberation party is not interested in taking all the power. I think that with this diversity of parties [in the council], we can achieve a consensus. I am going to take the lead in talking to council members to see what commitments they have so Liberia again becomes one. We do not want more fights nor these media shows. We want a united Liberia.