SHE had moved to Benalmadena as a child in the 1970s from Madrid when her father got a job as the director of Torrequebrada casino.
Now after a career in law, Paloma Garcia Galvez has come full circle to serve her town.
Following a vote of no confidence two years ago, she became the town’s PP mayor and immediately rolled up her sleeves to get to work.
“I really wanted to improve the quality of the town, starting in the centre where we have worked very hard to get people up here,” she tells the Olive Press.
“Before few people knew our charming village centre, even the local Spanish, now slowly it is being put on the map.”
Undoubtedly the case, the so-called ‘pueblo’ feels decidedly different than it did half a decade ago.
There is a new swagger to the place and a different sort of tourist is looking around, enjoying the atmosphere and many good restaurants.
When not playing golf (she plays off a handicap of 24), Paloma likes nothing more than to go off on a weekend around the nearby hills ‘inspecting the footpaths and making sure the signs are all in the right place’.
“We are really trying to encourage this type of tourism, walkers and cyclists,” she explains.
There are currently four specific routes with the one to Mijas being her favourite, although she hopes to try the one to Alhaurin soon.
She is also keen to improve and enhance the so-called green corridor that goes inland from the coast into the Sierra de Mijas and is a keen supporter of organic produce.
The town hall has recently started an organic market once a month near the train station and is supporting local ecological producers.
Above all, she values the town’s large British community, that numbers up to 10,000 by official figures.
As well as speaking good English herself, she has sent both her children to private bilingual schools and spent time in the UK studying herself.
“Having another language opens the mind and gives opportunities,” she explains. “It has certainly helped me.”
She now hopes that the big expat community supports her in her many planned changes for the town.
She also wants to stress the importance of being on the ‘padron’ (or official town register) which is important for local services (see poster, left).
“If you are not on the padron by December you will not be able to vote in next year’s local elections,” she says, adding: “And it is worth signing up as you will get a 55% discount on your local IBI (rates) and water and rubbish collection.”
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