As lakeside’s expat community grows by leaps and bounds, an increasing number of foreign born residents are obtaining Mexican citizenship, with voting rights to boot.
One Chapala mayoral candidate estimates that more than 350 are currently listed on the on the local voter rolls.
The Guadalajara Reporter ran across several of these civic-minded individuals as they popped into Ajijic polling stations last Sunday and asked for their thoughts on taking part in the 2018 election process.
Linda Fine Samuels has resided in Ajijic for 23 years. She became a Mexican citizen in 2009 and has voted in every election since then. “I live here; I’m going to die here. I am very interested in what goes on in the community and keep up by reading the Mexican newspapers,” she explains.
Her candidate of choice for mayor was Moy Anaya because she thinks he represents the fresh blood the local government needs. She believes he would do a good job in dealing with road repairs and upkeep, improving run-down neighborhoods such as Riberas del Pilar and operating a transparent administration.
Howard Feldstein, a life-long political activist, likewise revealed he was please to cast his ballot for Anaya. A 14-year resident who became a citizen just after the last election, he qualified the Movimiento Ciudadano candidate
as a young man with good ideas. He based his choice on internet research along with conversations with friends and family who share common concerns.
“We need a change from the usual parties and candidates,” Feldstein observed. He thinks the local government could do better at outreach to expats.
Ajijic businessman and community activist Tom Thompson said that obtaining citizenship to gain voting rights was a no-brainer. “My daughter, husband, and grandchild are all Mexicans. I have paid taxes here for 30 years,” he observed. As a voting constituent he is keen to have greater influence in government decisions and resident cooperation on issues such as controlled urban growth, noise pollution, village beautification and reforestation.
Fitting into a different mold was dual citizen Beto Martinez, an Ajijic native who has voted more times in the United States than in his homeland. He met his American wife Shari at lakeside and then settled in Iowa to raise a family. He obtained a green card and eventually U.S. citizenship through his marriage. The couple retired here two years ago. While delighted to exercise suffrage in Mexico for the first time in his life, he noted that procedures for registering to vote and going to polls seem more complicated south of the border than they are up north.