After more than 35 years serving as secretary-controller of the La Zarza City Council, Miguel Sánchez Caballero (Ribera del Fresno, 1956) is retiring. Married to Carmen Sánchez Gallardo and father of two daughters (María Fernanda and Carmen), he has dedicated more than half his life to public service.
How and when does it arrive at La Zarza Town Hall?
The place had become vacant in 1983 when the previous secretary, Mr. Jerónimo Marqueño, moved to the Guareña town hall. I competed and they granted it to me. I took office on October 8, 1984. He had previously held the position in the municipalities of Hornachos and Oliva de Mérida.
What are the main functions of the secretary-controller of a town hall?
Within their scope of action, and always guaranteeing the principles of transparency and stability, they highlight the function of public faith, legal advice, control and internal supervision of economic-financial and budgetary management, as well as accounting, treasury and collection.
Of all these functions, which do you think is the most complex and why?
I couldn’t say, since they are many and varied. To deal with them you have to know a little about everything. Perhaps the most complex thing is to reject some initiatives of the mayor and councilors that may be interesting for the municipality but that the law does not allow them to be carried out. Convincing politicians of this is not easy. This can deteriorate relations between the secretary-intervenor and the councilors, and especially with the mayor, who is the one with whom he relates the most.
What is needed to access the position of secretary-computer?
To participate in the selective tests you must be in possession of a higher university degree, currently a degree or equivalent. In addition, you have to pass exams that consist of three phases: a written theoretical phase; another, oral and, finally, a practice. Once the opposition phase has been completed, a training course must be taken at the School of Public Administration, which includes internships in a town hall.
What is the most pleasant part of work?
Feel useful every day and finish the work you start, without a doubt. On many occasions, the procedures in the Administration are long. If they end well, you feel good. Currently, for example, work on the new town hall is underway. I want to remind you that, once the land was acquired, the work began in 2011. Its completion is scheduled for 2020. When this happens, after such a long process and all the work that it entails, I will feel happy and satisfied.
And the most ungrateful?
Well, just the opposite. When we are working on a project for a while and, due to unexpected problems, it cannot be done. In these cases, I feel great disappointment.
After more than 35 years serving in this city council. Do you leave satisfied with the work done?
I made what I could. I can say that I have put all my knowledge and work capacity, exclusively, at the service of the La Zarza City Council. I have tried to solve the issues that have been entrusted to me and that the regulations have assigned to me. In general, with a few exceptions, I feel satisfied.
In what aspect do you think progress has been made or municipal management can be improved?
When I started all the work was practically manual. In the second half of the eighties of the last century, computing was introduced in small municipalities, a revolution. Accounting, payroll, word processing, resident registry programs, etc., began to be applied, which have provided agility and simplicity to the administration, thus improving the service to citizens. Currently we are at the beginning of a new revolution: electronic administration, which will allow a multitude of procedures to be carried out from home.
He has worked with three different mayors: Sebastian Guerrero, Antonio Guerrero and Francisco Jose Farrona. What has the relationship been like with them and what would stand out about each?
My relationship has been good, although not idyllic, since, at times, we have had ‘our more and our less’. The best thing is that in the face of differences, we have expressed our positions, we have respected each other and we have remained faithful without resentment.
As for myself, in these three periods of different mayors, I have been evolving. In the first period, at the beginning of my professional career, I had little experience and not much knowledge. I thank Mr. Sebastián Guerrero, a person with a lot of personal and professional training, for the patience he had with me.
With Mr. Antonio Guerrero, I think we learned together by dint of ‘beats’; He, as mayor and I, as secretary-controller.
This last stage, with Mr. Francisco Farrona, now more ‘seasoned’, has been, in my opinion, the one of my greatest performance in favor of the city council. I would not highlight anything particular about each of the mayors, but rather something common in all of them: the desire to work for the benefit of La Zarza to achieve the greatest possible benefit.
What perception does a riverside resident have of the residents of La Zarza?
I am going to share the opinion that my father had of the zarceños. When my mother died, my father lived with my sisters in Madrid and with us, in La Zarza. He spent three or four months a year here, and he always said that where he felt best was in La Zarza, because he had made friends and had a good relationship with the people he hung out with in Pilar. If he said that about the Zarceños, I say the same.
What memories or moments would you keep from these long thirty years?
One of the things that has worried me the most during all these years has been the financial situation of the city council. I have always tried to make it clean, because I knew that, if not, the city council could have serious problems. Today we can say that we have never had economic difficulties, that we have always paid all the expenses incurred: payroll, social security, taxes and creditor payments, in a short period of time, even before the legally established deadline. The La Zarza City Council has a reputation, among creditors, for being a good payer. This is a good memory that I will always carry with me.
If you had not been secretary-controller, what would you have liked to do?
Maybe to the practice of law. I have a degree in Law and I did my legal internship with the idea of becoming a member and practicing as a lawyer, combining it with the city council, as some of my colleagues do. After thinking about it carefully I decided not to join because it would have taken time away from the city council, which for me was the most important thing. Although my dream, since I was little, was to be a Real Madrid footballer. I would have loved it, really.
Now that a long professional period is coming to an end, what are you going to spend your free time on?
Well I do not know. When I start living my new situation, I will seriously consider it.
As a farewell, what would you say to the people of La Zarza?
I would like to sincerely thank you for allowing me to develop most of my professional career in this municipality and tell you that I have tried to do my job to the best of my ability.