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INTERNATIONAL IDEA EXCHANGE

An international friend of APWA heeds the call for service: Zeferino Sanchez

Julio C. Fuentes
Senior Traffic Engineer
City of San Diego, California
Chair, APWA/AMMAC Partnership Task Force

Zeferino Sanchez has been a friend of APWA from the time that APWA embarked on a mission to expand our professional frontier to include Mexico approximately 10 years ago. From the beginning, Zeferino has coordinated a multitude of joint efforts between the Association of Municipalities of Mexico (AMMAC) and APWA to enhance the professional and cultural understanding between both organizations with the goal of improving the technical and leadership skills of public works officials in the United States and Mexico.

During this period of time, APWA officials including Presidents and Executive Board Members, as well as public agency officials and private consultants wishing to expand their horizons and learn from the singular experience that our partners in Mexico have to offer, have greatly benefited from our partnership with AMMAC and Zeferino's always-available assistance. Numerous APWA and AMMAC Public Works Congresses have had the privilege to hear from elected officials and experts in transportation, water and wastewater, environmental, and innovative regional planning efforts, among many other topics of interest. We have come a long way in our journey to understand and develop a long-lasting professional relationship with Mexico, and the solidity of our friendship is about to be tested now that Zeferino has been called by the newly-elected leadership of President Felipe CalderĀ¢n to serve as head of the Industrial Services Division of Mexico's Federal Communications Commission.

Zeferino Sanchez (far right) takes time out from the 2005 AMMAC Congress in Aguascalientes, Mexico to visit the nearby colonial city of Zacatecas with former APWA President Tom Trice  (far left), Carlos de Alba Salas (Office of the Mayor, Aguascalientes) and Russ Patterson (City of Campbell, California).

Zeferino is an architect by education, and he has a long and illustrious career in public works. In the late eighties and early nineties, he served as Public Works Director for the City of Tijuana in Baja California. During that time, the San Diego/Tijuana region was severely affected by major flooding events that required joint efforts from both sides of the border. The municipal governments from San Diego and Tijuana demonstrated a remarkable ability to coordinate emergency relief which resulted in basic services being restored throughout the region with minimal delays. As the public works leader for the City of Tijuana during those trying times, Zeferino became aware of the benefits of binational and international communication, and since that time he has become its strongest advocate.

Mexico is a nation of over 100 million people, and a land mass of roughly 750,000 square miles. The mission statement of the Federal Communications Commission is to provide all the people of Mexico with access to integrated communication services in a healthy competitive environment that allows for major infrastructure development, efficient delivery of services, and the introduction of new technologies. Their vision is to put Mexico at the vanguard of telecommunications and information technology. This is an awesome responsibility, and as much as we will miss Zeferino's friendship and support, we know firsthand of his firm commitment to the well-being of his country. His profound knowledge of public works coupled with his demonstrated leadership skills are essential to achieving the noble goals that have been set at the Federal Communications Commission. We are thankful to Zeferino Sanchez for the service that he has provided to APWA and AMMAC, and we wish him the best in his new call to service for the people of Mexico.

Julio Fuentes can be reached at (619) 533-3092 or JFuentes@sandiego.gov.