Paulo Serra: The family man who honors his political vocation and turns it into a legacy

por The Winners
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Bachelor of Law and Economics, Paulo Serra is the re-elected mayor of Santo André. In a historic vote, contabilized in the first round 276.591 of the valid votes (76.85%) for the fiscal year of 2021- 2024, becoming the best-voted mayor of the city. In his first term – for the fiscal year of 2017-2020 – he received 276.575 valid votes (78.21%). Born in Santo André, he is married to lawyer Ana Carolina Rossi Barreto Serra, who voluntarily chairs the Social Solidarity Fund of Santo André, and father of a daughter, Maria Carolina, 6 years old. He is the son of Paulo Américo Pinto Serra and Dr. Regina Helena Caruzo Serra, brother of Pedro and Juliana. As a manager, he has guided a new management model that has rescued the financial credibility of the city and enabled significant advances. Opened 10 new day care centers, modernized healthcare with the Qualisaúde program and promoted important works in urban mobility, infrastructure, culture, and sport, recovering Santo André’s prominence in each action. A man focused on action and who understands the importance of a city connected with its population, its longings, and its needs. The constant search for innovation, partnerships, efficiency, and inclusion allows his management to be recognized and places Santo André among Brazilian cities considered the “smart cities of the future”. During the FOPA (São Paulo Development Forum) in 2021, whose host city was Santo André, it presented, through its actions, not only the results obtained in recent years, as well as the legacy it will leave for future generations.

In this exclusive interview for The Winners, Mayor Paulo Serra tells a little of this path.

 

The Winners – How was your entry into the public career? What have motivated you?

Paulo Serra – Since adolescence, I already demonstrated collective leadership leading the return of student associations of Stocco School, where I attended high school. My main influence and inspiration came from my grandfather, Américo Pinto Serra, who was a candidate for vice-mayor on the ticket with the former mayor of Santo André, Dr. Brandão. And the motivation to join as a councilor was the love for my city. I am Andreense (who is born in Santo André), grandson of Andreenses, son of andreenses, married to an Andreense and father of an Andreense. Working for my city has always been an honor and also a great responsibility.

 

 

TW – Your political career began as a councilor for two terms and followed as successful mayor in your second term. What differs each moment? In your opinion, what should be the view of the public manager to ensure the success of administration?

PS – As a councilman, I had the opportunity to know deeply every problem of the city and I could hear our people. This proximity made me identify the need for a work based on planning, in effective actions that brought life transformation to the Andreenses. After the two mandates, I also worked as Secretary of Works, in the City of Santo André, which broadened my view on the need for change and the implementation of a new management model. And it was with this vision that we brought to ‘Santo André da Gente’, a model of nearby administration, who listens to people and works for the city. This model approved by the Andreenses, when I was re-elected with almost 77% of the vote.

 

 

TW – In your opinion, what changed in your first administration as mayor and now in the second term?

PS – The first management was time to put the house in order. Since the death of Mayor Celso Daniel in 2002, the city has been stagnant, with administrations that have sinned in the care and planning of development actions. When I took over, we cut perks such as official cars, corporate cell phones and solved the city’s historical problems, with the recovery of credibility, the discharge of a debt of R$ 3.5 billion with Sabesp, and the end of the structural lack of water in the city.

TW – Santo André is located in the concept of smart cities, but currently when we talk about the concept we should consider: technological solutions in public management and integrated between companies and citizens. How do you see this concept and how it is being applied in your administration?

PS – A city that thinks about the future of its people and uses technology and innovation to transform people’s lives and to design the future. Santo André is connected to its residents and our management, aligned with the development of permanent and lasting public policies, will leave a legacy to the next managers. We increase the quality of public service, with immediate impacts on the quality of life of the Andreenses. All this is already a reality in Santo André. Today we are an example of smart city, being considered in 2020 by SindiTelebrasil the 1st in Brazil in the Smart Cities Ranking, demonstrating that we are not only planning but in fact transforming our city in this direction, through actions such as Wi-Fi in parks, Digital Blue Zone, pitch gov program, which brought startups to solve problems of the government, electronic point by facial recognition, among many others.

 

 

TW – Still in this concept, investment in education and people is a fundamental point in the process of evolution for digitization and dissemination of technology. What was done during your management to promote access to people and training?

PS – Santo André has become a digital city, connected to our people, sustainable, that respects the use of public money and allocates funds and resources to improve the quality of life and ensure more dignity for the population, investing in areas such as Health, Security, Education and Infrastructure. This year, our main challenges are in the resumption of Education, with a hybrid model of education and also in integral education, in addition to the generation of employment and income, to generate new opportunities, attract investments, foster entrepreneurship, through the training and professionalization courses of the Andreense Golden School, for the resumption of the economy.

 

TW – In the matter of education, in May 2021 your management launched the Qualieducação program, with the implementation of new technologies and the humanization of teaching combined with the qualification of network professionals. How does it work exactly and what citizens should expect in the medium and long term?

PS – We have implemented Qualieducação, a program to modernize municipal education. We have already distributed 8.500 tablets to students and teachers of EJA – Youth and Adult Education, and the 4th and 5th years of elementary school, already with chip for internet access and pedagogical platform, so that students have the best performance in learning, even if it is remotely. A fundamental mechanism for the pandemic period, which caused students to be completely away from the school environment. We will expand the acquisition of tablets so that, therefore, the entire network in the age of use of technology, has access to the equipment. Qualieducação also optimizes maintenance in schools, placing our Education as a reference in the municipality.

 

 

TW – Santo André was one of the best evaluated cities in facing the covid-19 pandemic. How do you rate the work and what made the difference?

PS – It is the most challenging moment of the management and history of Santo André. We have never imagined living something like this. However, all the planning and work performed since the first month of 2017 helped us to go through these 12 months of pandemic, ensuring that no Andreense was left without medical care. We structured Health with 25 Health Units revitalized and modernized, we implemented three field hospitals (Pedro Dell’Antonia, Bruno Daniel and UFABC) that allowed us to save thousands of lives, did mass testing, implemented the Pit Stop prevention, produced 700.000 fabric masks via “Costurando com Amor” (Sewing with Love), social fund project, chaired by Ana Carolina, we started ‘Merenda em Casa’, which benefits more than 38.000 families monthly and ensures the food security of our children, we distribute basic baskets to the most affected families. Finally, a tireless and uninterrupted work that has been causing Santo. André to resist the crisis remains intact to walk a path that leads us to a safe future for each and everyone.

 

 

TW – Among the city’s outstanding programs is its integration between the environment and solidarity with the Green Currency Program, which allows the exchange of recyclable waste for food of the horticultural type. How was this initiative born, what are the parties involved and the results obtained with the program?

PS – This is a partnership between Semasa and the Social Fund of Santo André, which is voluntarily chaired by the first lady, Ana Carolina, through the Food Bank. For every 5kg of recyclable material, the resident receives 1kg of hortifrúti food (fruits and vegetables). Recyclable waste is sent in full to the recycling cooperatives of Santo André, which together employ approximately 120 cooperative members. It is currently present in 18 needy communities: Sacadura Cabral, Ciganos, Capuava, Ciprestes, Eucalyptus, Morro da Kibon, Santa Cristina, Jardim Irene, Sítio dos Vianas, Cruzado, Pintassilgo, Tamarutaca, Sorocaba, Espírito Santo, Missionários, Chácara Baroness, Lamartine and Maurício de Medeiros. The program benefits approximately 95.000 residents, directly and indirectly, and by the end of the year, we will expand to three more communities. We have already exchanged more than 465 tons of waste for 93 tons of fresh, quality food.

TW – Another highlight of the municipality is the Technological Park. How does its structure contribute to the development of companies and people? From it what other actions will be possible?

PS – The Technological and Innovation Park is a fundamental part of the economic development policy already in operation by the City Hall and has as its mission to promote innovation and competitiveness in companies, enhancing the existing structures in the city and region, stimulating the technological extension in higher education institutions, and acting in the economic opportunities of the ABC. Currently, the Technological Park has three major programs: CapacitaTech, Bureau of Technological Services and Innovation Hub. CapacitaTech is a platform that concentrates information and gives direct access to about 7.000 courses in the IT area, most free, offered by companies in Brazil and the world. The Innovation Hub, developed by the Municipality of Santo André, supports and promotes companies that want to develop research, new products and processes in a systematic and continuous way. The Bureau of Services is an integrated service structure, which unifies the network of technological services in the city of Santo André and the region. The tool offers more than 120 services.

 

 

TW – Few people recognize in the metropolitan region of São Paulo a tourist potential. However, Santo André has been highlighted in tourism. What are the main attributes and what work has been developed?

PS – Santo André has as main tourist attraction Paranapiacaba. The English village has nature, history and gastronomy, which provide the visitor with a visit to the past. With a European climate that transcends its architecture, the village also has the potential for extreme sports and ecotourism. To further enhance its tourism capacity, in partnership with Senai, we are offering training to local dealers, in actions promoted by the ‘Escola de Ouro’ (Golden School) program, conceived by the Social Solidarity Fund. In addition, we revitalize several equipments: Tower Clock, Castle Museum, Locomotive Garage, Tourist Express Platform, Campo Grande Station, among others, which value the village and make it even more beautiful and well cared for.

 

 

TW – Recently Santo André hosted the event FOPA – São Paulo Development Forum 2021 where you highlighted the importance of promoting dialogue between civil society and the public authorities to ensure the effective solution of the issues of the municipality with a focus on Development for all sectors. How is this done in your management?

PS – Popular participation is key. This new management model has even brought public management closer to people. It brought dialogue, transparency and proximity to our people. Listening to people, getting to know each problem in depth and recognizing these challenges is ensuring Santo André’s works. There is no city of the future if it is not built and thought of with the population.

 

 

TW – The world society still finds a challenging scenario, for entrepreneurs and workers the prospects are not yet favorable. In your opinion, how does the public manager need to act to ensure the investments and maintenance of companies in the city in the coming years?

PS – In Santo André, we invest in the recovery of credibility, through the sanitation of accounts, which brought new investments to the city and, at the same time, in training and professionalization, through the courses of the Golden School that, by 2024, more than 10.000 students. Skilled labor to meet the demand of the municipality. In addition, technology is key to ensuring a fairer, more humane and more integrated city. It makes it possible to strengthen the relationship between government and population, ensuring the participation of society in making decisions that impact everyone’s life. In addition, there is transparency, which creates a bond of trust and respect with our people. People know where the resources are going in the same proportion as they feel the improvement of services. When we debureaucratize, eliminate paper and save time, create a more sustainable and efficient atmosphere. We can ensure faster for entrepreneurs to open new businesses or for a work to be started. All of this moves the economy, creates jobs, creates opportunities and transforms people’s lives. There are already more than 4.000 users registered on the Acto platform, more than 14.000 processes, in an environment that today concentrates one of the largest investment packages in the history of our city, with a contribution of R$ 1.5 billion in private sector resources. A gear that moves the generation of jobs and income, the injection of resources into the economy, improves the collection of the municipality and allows us to invest in the areas that change the lives of our people, such as Health, Education, Security, Infrastructure and Mobility.

 

 

TW – The moment calls for planned actions focused on development. However, much of the budget of the municipalities was directed to health. What are Santo André’s plans to resume investments in infrastructure?

PS – In Santo André, we seek resources so that no Andreense would be without medical care and to save as many lives as possible. Although we have slowed down some works due to the pandemic, we have not paralyzed anything. On the contrary. We are taking from the paper great works such as the reform of Cine Theatro Carlos Gomes, the Cassaquera Road Complex, concluding the construction of two day care centers, in Tamarutaca and Jardim do Mirante, in a work that does not stop anymore. With reconstituted credibility, we receive resources from the IDB, CAFE, Finisa, public-private initiatives and also from the Federal and State Governments, to advance projects and solutions.

TW – At the end of your term as mayor what are your plans? What legacy do you intend to leave?

PS – My commitment is to Santo. André. I am Andreense, married to an Andreense, father of an Andreense, son and grandson of Andreenses. The legacy I want to leave is of a city prepared for the future, planned, structured and ready to remain on this safe path that we work to walk. In 2024, I stop being mayor of this city, but I am still a resident and son of this land. Therefore, we created the Santo André 500 years, a plan of goals for each secretariat, for each area of the city. Thus, the next chief of this Executive will be able to give continuity and flow to everything that was created and designed for an increasingly better city.

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