Toma de Protesta/Our New Mayor

P1090827We have been very excited about the incoming mayor, Carlos Felton González. We first met him during the inauguration of the photo event up on top of the lighthouse. While all the other dignitaries were sweating and heaving with the effort of climbing up, Felton bounded up with energy and later ran down with great glee. He’s obviously fit. We see him in Playa Norte at many of our fair city’s athletic events, and were overjoyed this morning to hear his support for the ciclovías/bike lane plans that have been previously announced and so long in coming to fruition.

One man alone can not make change happen, so we can only hope  that his Cabildo, cabinet, committees, staff, and all ciudadanos can jump on board and make this new administration the best it can be for our beloved adopted hometown!

The swearing-in ceremony in the Angela Peralta Theater this morning began promptly at 8:00. Five key opera singers from CULTURA regaled us for 30 minutes. While that took place, the official swearing-in ceremony—oaths of office—were taking place in the Cabildo.

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At 8:30 am, the dignitaries walked into the theater: the Governor of Sinaloa, Mario López Valdez; the Secretary of the Government, Gerardo Vargas Landeros; the Commander of the Third Military Region, Moisés García Melo; the Commander of the Fourth Naval Zone, Francisco Márquez; and the Governor of Durango, Jorge Herrera Caldera; and a stage filled with other prominent people. Click on any image to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Opening introductions and thanks took a full 10 minutes. What impressed me was the sincerity of those thanks—Felton mentioned so many people by name, describing his affection and respect for so many of them. He definitely seems to be a man not driven by pure ego, as is so often our political fate.

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The theater was over-filled, with dozens of members of the press standing to get photos, the ground floor and all balconies standing-room-only. A viewing area with seating had also been set up in the Plazuela Machado, with a huge screen streaming events from inside.

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Felton shared with us a very clear and highly motivating vision, and seems to have plans in place to get started putting those plans in action. I was sure impressed with his slate of functionaries/cabinet officials that he announced yesterday. Points in Felton’s remarks this morning that stood out for me included:

  1. Almost his very first comment was that he is a padre de familia, a parent, and that he is committed to a community in which families thrive, are valued, feel safe, and have the resources they need. Such values and priorities sure resonate with me.
  2. His commitment to reaching out to all citizens, and his commitment to serve—especially those who are poorest and most marginalized. He also talked of his commitment to the differently abled.
  3. His focus on creating a strong and sustainable economy here in Mazatlán, one in which our children, older and experienced adults—everyone—can find jobs worth having. His commitment to partnering with private industry and to retaining talent here in our port, rather than continuing the brain drain of our top talent to other cities, was music to my ears.
  4. He thanked all foreign residents for their choice to live in Mazatlán, for the affection we show for this city, and for so often setting a good example for others in how to care for and show responsibility for creating the best living conditions possible. This was remarkable—one of maybe three times people interrupted his speech with applause. Given that 95% of the audience or more were locals, this was remarkable.
  5. He had another huge round of applause thanking the police and the military leaders for all their work in securing safety here in Mazatlán. Felton pointed out that no matter how much economic or tourism success we might have, if our port experiences violence, it’s all for naught. Again, it was refreshing to hear a politician giving others credit for the work they so ably do. I attend far too many events where you’d think the only capable person present is the one speaking.
  6. He quoted Khalil Gibran in closing, while thanking his mother, and also extended thanks to his wife and children. He recognizes that his public duties will mean less of him and his time for his family. For me, it was gratifying to hear public acknowledgement of that.

After the official events (outgoing Mayor Higuera was missing from this event), Felton hosted a beautiful reception in the Plazuela, complete with empanadas, donuts, canapés, and nonalcoholic sangria/jamaica cocktails, served in champagne flutes. I was gratified to see that the public was welcome to this reception; many children and obviously lower income people were enjoying mingling with the city’s rich and famous. Playing was my favorite local band: videographer and talented singer Julio Recinos with La Falsa Orquesta Cubana Sazón. Given the perfect, sunny yet cool and pleasant morning and the gorgeous architecture of the theater and the Plazuela Machado, it all seemed auspicious, indeed! As we exited the theater, luck would have it that we crossed paths with Governor Malova, just in time for me to get a good morning kiss.

We are all skeptical of politicians these days, sadly. We hear good words and take them with a grain of salt. It is my sincere hope that someone with such deep ties to Mazatlán as Felton has, someone who has over the years shown his love for our city and its downtrodden, someone married to someone as wonderful and values-focused as Sylvia Treviño, someone who loves sports, the outdoors, the environment, and who respects history and heritage as well as diversity, might have a hope of truly making a difference.

May our city pull together and, as Felton says, truly transform itself!

One final note: We shared with you recently the gorgeous dress that the town of El Rosario had created to honor its town. Evidently Mazatlán has taken their example, as today we witnessed the unveiling of two new dresses representing our port. Photos below.

History of the Lighthouse in Photos

DSC_0057Do you love the lighthouse as much as I do? Love how the seasons change, different animals and plants are at their best every couple of weeks? Do you enjoy the view of the city from up there—sometimes so clear, other times gorgeously hazy, and sometimes socked in with fog? Do you love the people who hike up, and the exercise and fresh air it provides?

This morning was a wonderful event up top of the lighthouse. The Movimiento Ciudadano Rescate al Faro group, to which I’ve belonged for a couple of years, opened a special photo exhibit. I knew about it because Irving Fregoso, the group’s organizer, asked me five or six weeks ago to translate the Spanish into English, so that the exhibit could be bilingual. It seems there was no money for the exhibition; all had to be volunteer. In addition to the historic photos, there were gorgeous photos of animals and plants donated by our own Alwin van der Heiden. It is a beautifully simple exhibit, and if you are at all interested in the history of Mazatlán or our beloved faro, you definitely should hike up and check it out. Great to know when the port was officially opened, the various stages of the lighthouse, and the old photos of the Lens are spectacular! The exhibit is along the wall of the lighthouse building, under the awning. A few photos of it are in the slideshow below, to whet your appetite and motivate you to go see the exhibit.

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Prior to the ribbon cutting for the exhibit, there were dozens of young people, including students from CONALEP, cleaning up trash. Members of the Asociación de Guias, the city’s official tourist guides, were also in attendance. They were along the ocean front, on the path, and all over the top of the hill. They picked up trash, they painted over graffiti, and they made the place look great. The Rescatemos al Faro group has organized several cleanups now, but this is the most well-attended event I’ve seen. I am glad to see it growing in popularity and support. Thank you all immensely! Such cleanups are a never-ending job and we are grateful to you!

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1.DSC_0087The ribbon-cutting that opened the photo exhibit was attended by several dignitaries: a young representative of the Governor’s Office, a representative from the port authority/API, the wife of the Secretary of Tourism, a representative of the Mayor’s Office, and our Diputado and probably soon-to-be mayor, Carlos Felton. It was great to see them there; we need political support to improve our Faro recreation area.

1.DSC_0080So, what was the really great part of the ceremony? Davíd Escobar, the architect, and the Rescate al Faro team presented an official proposal to all those officials! Hooray! They took advantage of the visionary words being uttered in those speeches this morning, and came through with a concrete plan of action. Fingers crossed!

The really gorgeous morning for me was couched, however, in a mini-culture-shock. Not that it’s surprising or unusual, but it’s a side of my México lindo y querido that I just don’t like. Here were all these volunteers—kids and adults, spending hours cleaning up an area that we all enjoy. Here was the volunteer group, Rescate al Faro, which has done so much for a couple of years now to raise awareness of the importance of this recreational area in our community. And, somewhere around but no where to be seen, was Irving, a young worker in the Secretaría de Turísmo, who seemingly organized all of this. He told me later he was busy tying up trash bags at the bottom of the hill during the ceremony, and couldn’t make it up in time to see it. So, the scene is one of lots of very passionate volunteers, making a difference in their community.

Irving Fregoso with yours truly this morning

Irving Fregoso with yours truly this morning

During the speeches that preceded the ribbon cutting, the dignitaries talked and talked, sharing their vision, but no one really thanked the citizen volunteers in attendance! I know there is a Mexican dignity in not expecting acknowledgement, but it was hard for me to watch it not extended. Irving, who got this whole effort going, organized the event this morning, and then didn’t even get to see its grand opening, was not acknowledged. No one mentioned the historian who put the exhibit together, or the photographers whose works were represented. I did count four times that official remarks mentioned the difficulty of the climb. A member of the Rescate al Faro group had to interrupt the proceedings in order to be able to present their proposal, even though they’d made this all happen. Today was the Governor’s Office debut of their Agente de Cambio campaign, yet it glorified the sponsors and the politicians rather than the doers—rather than the on-the-ground agents of change. Come on, Mazatlán, we can show more appreciation than this! We are all in this together! Maybe today might serve to get some of these dignitaries more engaged in the El Faro effort; that would be fantastic. I did witness Carlos’ joy as he was able to run down in seven minutes. Ok, gringa rant finished for now. I get it’s a cultural difference. And I get that politicians everywhere are, well, politicians.

None of the usual daily lighthouse climbers were at the event this morning. Greg and I really missed seeing our cohorts. Next time perhaps the group should post signs announcing such an exhibition or event, so that the “regulars” plan to attend. We asked Carlos, the lighthouse keeper, about it a couple of times, and he had no idea it was about to happen.

It was an absolutely beautiful clear morning here. The views were spectacular. Our citizens showed up in droves to clean public areas. We have a gorgeous historical photo exhibit, done for free and open to the public for free. All in all, wonderful for Mazatlán. Be sure to hike up and take a look! Final slide show of the view, below.

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Link to a story on this event in the Noroeste.