They are city councilors who keep smiling, even in the heart of storms. Presiding over the destiny of a small, medium or larger city, they say they are passionate about their work but without hiding the real difficulties of the mayor’s mandate. What keeps them going? The feeling of feeling useful, serving their constituents with whom they have been able to forge a solid bond through their presence in the field.
At 74, François Garay (various left) is currently serving his fourth term as mayor of Mureaux (Yvelines). Last summer, while riots spread to many towns in France, the city remained calm. Just a few trash cans and scooters burned. This city of 33,000 inhabitants, which has five priority districts of the city policy (QPV) and was set ablaze in 2005, has since installed numerous facilities. A new gymnasium, a games library, a media library, a dance center, a family center…
An ambitious urban renovation project worth more than 400 million euros also saw the light of day between 2005 and 2017 in order, in particular, to “bring nature back into the city”: 3,000 trees planted and an eco-district created. “I want to believe that all this contributed to improving the living environment and ensured that the city remained calm last summer,” explains François Garay.
Leave your mark
Educational, cultural and sporting facilities are often among the main sources of pride for mayors. A way for them to leave a lasting imprint on the territory and the history of a municipality. In Anduze (Gard), a medieval Cévennes village of 3,300 inhabitants, the mayor without a label Geneviève Blanc, elected for the first time in 2020, is delighted to give new cultural impetus to the town. She set up two festivals: “Jazz au Parc” and “Lol & Lalala”, an event combining music and humor.
In Rochefort (Charente-Maritime), 23,000 inhabitants, the mayor LR Hervé Blanché testifies: “I like to look back and be able to say to myself: there you go, together, we have built a brand new athletics track, opened a skate park for young people… A gratifying observation. » However, since the Covid crisis and the start of the war in Ukraine, inflation has forced Hervé Blanché to abandon several projects, including an aquatic center and a gymnasium. He is keen to maintain the balance of his city’s finances and calls for “rigorous management” and pragmatic, taking into account the economic situation. Even if it means abandoning a few campaign promises along the way.
Of course, everyone is aware of the threats weighing on local elected officials. Since the attack on Yannick Morez, the mayor of Saint-Brevin-les-Pins (Loire-Atlantique), last May, these councilors have been thinking about the attacks they suffered, while believing they can cope with them.
Hervé Blanché, in Rochefort, was marked by a slap received from a resident. The administrator did not accept the city’s decision to entrust school transportation to the local bus network rather than to coaches. “You are going to kill my daughter!” » she said. The councilor did not file a complaint. The protection of elected officials, under discussion these days in Parliament, seems less of a priority to him than the increase in their compensation*, the primary subject of concern for all these defenders of public affairs.
Learn to delegate
In Mureaux, François Garay especially notes a deterioration in relations between mayors and residents. “Everyone believes that they have rights but above all no duties. People come to see the mayor to satisfy all their demands: so-and-so to obtain housing, another a job…” There are also “abnormally long” working days, notes Hervé Blanché in Rochefort for whom they do not were undoubtedly not unrelated to his divorce a few years ago.
The councilors realize the imperative need for a good balance of life… and management in order to stay on course and maintain morale throughout the mandate. “You have to know how to delegate,” confides Geneviève Blanc to Anduze. The mayor doesn’t have the answers to everything, but fortunately I can rely on a solid team of elected officials. And then there is sport: I cycle, walk and go to the swimming pool regularly; moving is essential to last. » At François Garay, it is family life that keeps us going. He has lunch every Monday with his grandchildren, picks them up from school each evening and helps them with their homework. “Essential appointments. Because the day the voters “thank you”, the time you have not taken for yourself, you will not make up for it. »
*€1,042 gross monthly for a municipality of less than 500 inhabitants, €5,925 above 200,000.
Attacks against elected officials increased in 2022
32%. This is the rate of increase in complaints and reports concerning attacks on elected officials in 2022.
Source: Ministry of the Interior