Mayor of Tijuana says farewell to city in final state of the city address

Praises successor and defends his government's three year record

Bustamante gave special thanks to her daughter, Carolina Bustamante, who during his mayorship lead the Municipal DIF board of directors. The DIF, Spanish acronym for the National System for Comprehensive Family Development, is the federal public agency in charge of managing welfare, child protection and other social services through its municipal, state and national charters. Normally, the top leadership position is given to the local executive's spouse. Bustamante, being currently unmarried, offered the position to his daughter, acknowledging her "dedication for Tijuana, bravery for carrying out committed campaigns on behalf of the city and being the image of a modern woman, responsible wife and caring mother. 'Carito', your work during these years always set an example for me."

When it comes to public transit, another contentious issue for many decades in the history of the Tijuana's urban development, he knows he made a commitment to face this challenge, sharing some new details of the newly begun Bus Rapid Transit route planned for the city, a project that he says will benefit 240,000 daily commuters and which has just received a 800 million peso (61 million USD) grant for the new transit system from the Treasury Ministry. He praised the fact that there is now a recently created public entity charged with maintaining the continuity of the project beyond his or another mayor's three year term, called the Tijuana Comprehensive Transit System, now fully in construction.

"This Plan brings together also 109 final projects... that will make this a sustainable region, transforming it into an innovative metropolis," states the mayor.

Another proud achievement for Bustamante are the positives steps taken to redevelop Tijuana's Historic Downtown, plagued by decades of neglect by government and developers that has affected the image of the famous landmark, Avenida Revolución, and other 'El Centro' attractions. The City Government managed to set-up a special Trust Fund and Board for the Downtown Area Redevelopment project and, remove unlicensed vendors from the streets.

Another great challenge was the problem with the city's finances and large debt left by the previous administration. Here, the mayor stressed figures and detailed descriptions about the debt's payment restructuring in regards to interest rates and penalties, as a way of confronting recent criticism that his administration left the city with needless debt. "We were left with the largest public debt in the country," but thanks to the "successful renegotiation talks for its restructuring," the public debt currently stands at around 2.5 billion pesos (191,500,000 USD approximately) that "includes, as I've always said," penalties and financial rescue cost. Finally, he expressed his gratitude toward his two Finance and Administration secretaries that "accompanied me during my tenure, Rufo Ibarra and Sergio Rosete."

For Jorge Astiazarán Orcí, mayor-elect, he offered congratulations for his elections and confessed pride in the fact that he will be handing over the reins of the City Government to a "fellow party member... convoked that with you, Tijuana will continue to get better."

He ended his speech with acknowledging gratitude towards his cabinet and "the public officials that formed this government," as well as towards his family. "I always counted on the comprehension and the affection of my family, to which I thank for they support, without any doubts. Serving Tijuana has been my life's highest honor; I will continue to work like I've always done, giving my best and with loyalty towards by ideals and values. Let us build together the united, prosperous, open and orderly Tijuana we deserve," state outgoing mayor Carlos Bustamante.

jose.sanchez@sandiegored.com

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