Charo Bañuls says that she is exhausted after her four years as mayor of Bigastro and so will be taking a break from politics at the end of this term of office. Although, her successor at the head of the PP list has not been officially named, it is thought to be María Teresa Sánchez Belmonte. Whether she becomes mayor or not will be up to the electorate in May.
In reports to the press, Bañuls says that she has lived through horrible moments both economically and politically during this mandate. What she has tried to do is prevent a reoccurrence of what went wrong during the previous 28 years of socialist rule in the town.
Recapping on the four years, Bañuls said that the dismissal of fifty council workers at the start, the exposure of corruption e.g. the agricultural workers who actually did no work for the council have all taken their toll on her popularity in the community. When the pact between the PP and the UPLC broke, that left her party ruling with a minority number of seats. The split presented many problems for Bañuls trying to reach accord during council meetings.
Summing up, Bañuls said, "the hard work is done. We have laid the groundwork and have laid the foundations of a new City Hall. I have done big projects, have recovered the credibility of suppliers, controlled spending and public services without being prejudiced " and finally admitted, “there is still a lot of hard work left to be done by my successor”.
My relationship to the mayor
When she was first elected as leader of the PP, we knew very little about Charo Bañul. I recall that, when I first pointed my camera towards her, she was quizzical as if she wondered who was this English person taking photographs. What was my purpose? For all that she knew, I could be a friend or an enemy and so she was understandably wary.
Gradually Charo became more familiar with the sight of me with a camera and she would smile as I pressed the shutter.
However, only in the last year did she speak to me and even then it was mostly a simple acknowledgement of my presence. Only once did we have anything like a conversation. At that time I told her that my friend in England says we are lucky to have a pretty lady as a mayor. In England, mayors are mostly serious looking men. I also told her that she had lost weight and looked nice in the red jacket she was wearing. I am not sure how she took the compliment but at least she smiled.
When I have the opportunity, I’ll go back through my photos of the last four years and post a gallery of pictures of Charo Bañuls, mayor of Bigastro (2011 – 2015).