My main political interest lays within what’s happening in the UK, and looking at the macro picture; such as the economic mess in peripheral European countries.
However, I do believe that there are still a lot of things which can be done, at the “local level” to help small towns and the businesses and people in these towns, to grow and thrive. Providing we find the right people – irrespective of political allegiance – to do the jobs necessary!
Take my small town, Povoa de Varzim, in the north of Portugal, as an example.
Here we have an amazing seaside resort, one of the best golf courses outside of the Algarve, a Casino, beautiful and productive countryside; it’s 15 minutes from an international airport and just a short train ride into the heart of Porto. It is a great place to live, work and visit!
Yet for years the Town Hall acts as if no one wants to come here. It is rarely promoted to foreign visitors, some of the poor developments stink of crony-capitalism, and instead of Portuguese people enjoying the benefits that this town should be offering, bad planning and bad promotion is sucking the life blood out of the town.
This inefficiency is not helping anyone locally – especially in the tough times Portugal is going through – and whilst the national politics is still undoubtedly a mess, local people now appreciate that it is time to change the way things are done in Povoa de Varzim.
In September, we have elections in Povoa de Varzim for a new Mayor, and as the race heats up, one group of people are doing everything they can to get into office, so they can make the necessary changes the county is crying-out for.
The local candidate for Mayor, Jorge Quintas Serrano, is not a “crony-politician”, who goes around offering certain people deals in return for their support; he does not tell people how wonderful he is, nor does he make false promises to the party faithful and electorate about what he is going to do for the town.
He is a team player, who prefers to stand on a platform with his whole team: a young dynamic team of people, with diversified interests and expertise, which – when elected – will have ample ability and depth to attack Povoa de Varzim’s various problems head on.
He will move the Town Hall away from a culture of “crony-ism”, something which has plagued to town for decades, and he will use his teams, expertise, dedication, and integrity, to do the right thing.
They have a simple aim to put Povoa de Varzim on the map, bringing pride back to its citizens, and attract foreign visitors and investors. And they want to do it in a way that everyone benefits! A simply aim, but lots of hard work!
In today’s political world of spin and false promises, what I like about Jorge and his team, is that there are no egos, no self-interest; i.e. they are not interested in how much they can make from Povoa de Varzim.
The whole team has a genuine desire to do what is truly best for the whole county.
I have been to a few of their gatherings, and for a small team, their knowledge and expertise in a broad range of pertinent subjects is really impressive.
Jorge comes from a well-known, long-established, local industrialist family, yet he chose to work outside the family business and join Deloitte as an accountant, and has always dedicated himself to influence the town for the good. Amongst those I have met in his team, the diversity was impressive, not only the normal economists and lawyers, but it includes bankers, farmers, people from the fishing community and medical experts.
But most importantly, whilst they are focused on bringing wealth and security back to the people of Povoa de Varzim through improved commercial activity, his No. 2 is a woman who has dedicated much of her life running a local charity, supporting those young people in Povoa de Varzim who have needed the most help; someone with a proven track-record of “working with the minimum amount of money to do the maximum amount of good – for others”!
As I said earlier, this team includes the perfect ingredients to not only make Povoa de Varzim a more dynamic and prosperous town, it is a team which is showing itself to have the interests of others in their hearts. A team that are genuinely willing to work hard and sacrifice their own time for the betterment of their community.
It is obvious that all candidates in the upcoming elections will talk of how good they are going to be for Povoa de Varzim, and will use every argument and tactic to get themselves elected. But what were interesting were my conversations with local people, especially those who have traditionally voted for other candidates and parties.
Everyone in Povoa de Varzim knows that things have to improve, and want a massive change in the Town Hall, and obviously many want their own candidate or party to win. But during my conversations I have heard no one criticise this team led by Jorge Quintas Serrano.
Many have said it is an interesting team, a strong team, and even those who have said they cannot support it because of their national political affiliations, are extremely interested to see how successful this team will be – because many local residents do believe – if he is elected – Jorge and his team will be a positive change for the county.
In my opinion, if this is what your opponents say about you, then you must be doing the right thing!
Make no mistake, the road ahead is going to be very difficult for all Portuguese, and Povoa de Varzim will be no exception.
But if the local people look beyond the political situation at the national level, they will realise that to get the town moving in the right direction, the Town Hall needs a lot of fresh new blood.
It needs a young dynamic team of local people who will be around a long time and can steer Povoa de Varzim, through the rough waters ahead.
The team Jorge Quintas Serrano has put together is a team which is ideally suited for that job, and it is a team which is young enough and fit enough to make things work.
As a foreigner, I do not get involved in local or national politics, but as a resident of this potentially great town, it is in my interest to know what is going on and have an interest in the future direction of my adopted home…
I am sure that if people look at the facts, look at what the Town needs, and look at the strength, focus and integrity of this Candidate and this team, and vote it into office at the next election, Povoa de Varzim will have a bright future ahead, and irrespectively of the direction the country takes.