“Maipú’s people are an example of hard work, fraternity, and diversity; as their Mayor, I am committed to do the best work. Local governments are not only allowed to learn and replicate others’ ideas but are encouraged to. Thus, to be part of the OECD Champions Mayors is an exceptional opportunity to learn of others ‘ experiences and bring them to Maipú. We are also eager to share our city innovations with the world. Coordination and collaboration is essential to address inequalities and build a better city.”
Tomás Vodanovic Escudero was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1990. He holds a degree in sociology from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and has specialized in Public Policies at Georgetown University.
At the age of 20, Tomás founded the NGO “Formando Chile,” dedicated to promoting inclusive growth in underprivileged neighborhoods through education. He also served as a teacher of History, Geography, and Citizenship Education in “Enseña Chile,” a member of Teach for All. These experiences further solidified his belief that by working together, we can build a better country.
Since 2018, Tomás has been actively involved in the community of Maipú. Initially, he served as a staff member for a congressman and, in 2021, was elected as Maipú’s Mayor with an overwhelming 47% of the votes, making him the most popular mayor in Chile. He is affiliated with the Political Party “Revolución Democrática.”
Tomás is dedicated to revitalizing public spaces, improving public infrastructure, and enhancing user experience in Maipú’s services. All these efforts are aimed at improving the quality of life for the people of Maipú.
Maipú has suffered from a lack of investment in public spaces, which has had a negative impact on various aspects such as water leaks, parks and plazas, roadways and sidewalks, street lighting, and facades. These problems were further exacerbated by the pandemic and its aftermath, leading to an increase in crime rates and a heightened sense of insecurity that required urgent attention.
At the beginning of Mayor Vodanovic’s term, his office conducted a survey among residents to identify their most pressing needs. More than 85% of the responses highlighted issues related to public spaces. In response, the city revamped its management approach, expanded its team, and allocated a significant portion of its budget to address these concerns. Additionally, Maipú sought funding from regional and national sources, allowing the City to build the largest project portfolio in Chile by 2022. The City has also fostered strong public-private partnerships with local and international companies to tackle these challenges collaboratively.
One of the most impactful interventions made was the revitalization of Maipú’s Central Plaza. In 2021, it had become overcrowded with more than 400 street vendors, many of whom were operating under the influence of criminal organizations. We worked closely with the police and city staff to reclaim this space and implement necessary improvements. Moreover, the Mayor recognized that revitalizing a public space is not just about reducing its perceived danger, but also about creating an environment where people can enjoy and share meaningful experiences. As a result, the space now hosts a diverse range of free activities such as concerts, plays, and fairs on an almost weekly basis. These initiatives have contributed to a nearly 50% decrease in crime rates in the plaza.
In addition to the Central Plaza, the Mayor’s office has also focused on reducing litter hotspots throughout our streets. Through a public-private partnership, Maipú has implemented a program for collecting and recycling old mattresses from households, both improving the overall cleanliness of our city and promoting environmental sustainability.
The creation and enhancement of public spaces not only contribute to the beauty, safety, and convenience of Maipú, but also foster social cohesion by providing opportunities for neighbors to come together and connect.