Peñalosa, former Bogotá mayor, wins old job back


Enrique Peñalosa, the mayor of this capital city from 1998-2001 and a former presidential candidate, was voted back into City Hall on Sunday.

According to preliminary results, Peñalosa won 33 percent of the vote, followed by former Defense and Labor Minister Rafael Pardo with 29 percent.

In the second-city of Medellin, former city council member Federico Andrés Gutiérrez won the race with 36 percent of the vote, versus Juan Carlos Roberto Vélez Uribe, a former sentaor, with 34 percent.

Colombia’s police said the national election of local officials was one of the most peaceful in recent history. Even so, during the campaign season authorities arrested 113 people for electoral crimes, including 26 candidates.

One of those jailed contenders, Jhon Jairo Torres — who is known as ‘Jhon Underpants’ for his chain of lingerie stores — won the mayor’s post of Yopal. The government will have to put a temporary mayor in place until Torres is either convicted or absolved of allegations that he built a large housing development without permits.

Peñalosa is well known internationally for being an urbanization guru, and is credited with building Bogotá’s Transmilenio mass transit system during his tenure. Mobility has become one of the key concerns for this traffic-clogged city of 8 million.

The election also brings an end to a 12-year run of left-wing politicians in Bogotá.

On Sunday, Mayor Gustavo Petro, a former M-19 guerrilla, congratulated Peñalosa for his victory and said he would work toward a smooth transition.

In his victory speech, Peñalosa promised to run an inclusive administration and said he would “urgently” address the issues of mobility, safety and health.

“But we’re also going to build the shared dream,” he said, “that this is a city for us, our children and our grandchildren.”