Buenos Aires City Health Minister Fernán Quirós on Thursday confirmed he will run as a candidate to be mayor of the nation’s capital next year.
Speaking at the opening of a new community health (CeSAC) centre in Villa Luro, the official was joined by City Cabinet Chief Felipe Miguel and incumbent City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta as he confirmed recent press reports that he had made up his mind.
"I have made the decision to prepare myself to be able to compete,” said Quirós, who said he had "been deeply reflecting” on his decision to run.
"My conviction is that all public servants have to be ready to take care of the community. I have made the decision to prepare myself to be able to compete for the head of [City] government next year," he said, confirming his desire to replace Rodríguez Larreta at City Hall.
"I have a very strong commitment and a very positive evaluation of the management of this government, with Horacio at the head," said Quirós.
Quirós, 60, was a key player in Argentina’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and is seen by analysts as a capable and measured public official. Born in Olivos and from a family of doctors. He graduated with honours from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Buenos Aires and later specialised in internal medicine. He lead departments at various hospitals, including the Hospital Italiano, and led the Public Health Network for the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area (AMBA).
Quirós’ candidacy was initially reported some weeks ago, but the announcement was delayed due to a conflict with healthcare professionals in the City over salary increases that was settled last week. Rodríguez Larreta has talked up the doctor’s mayoral chances at a number of recent public appearances, proposing him as a potential candidate.
The Olivos-born doctor will face a packed field in the race for Uspallata, with a number of his party and City government colleagues expressing interest in the post. Other possible mayoral hopefuls include Radical Senator Martín Lousteau.
Rodríguez Larreta, who wants to run for the presidency, faces an awkward few months ahead, as he walks a fine line between favouritism and public support.
"It is a source of pride to work with Fernán and that he has this vocation," said the mayor on Thursday, offering praise for Quirós.
"It is an honour to work with Fernán and that he has this vocation," said the mayor on Thursday, offering praise for Quirós. “He has shown all his professional capacity, his human qualities, his fortitude in the biggest health crisis we have had in the last century. Fernán led the entire health system through the pandemic.”
Treading carefully, the opposition leader then went on to say that "Soledad Acuña's candidacy is also a source of pride," referring to the ambitions of his education minister.
He also hailed the qualities of City government minister, Jorge Macri, and lawmaker and Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Ferrario, both of whom have publicly stated their desire to run.
Rodríguez Larreta went on to say he supported “all the PRO candidates,” before highlighting the opening of the new health institution, which has 14 consultation rooms and offers dental, gynaecological and medium-level care.
"We are fulfilling our commitment to have health centres less than 15 minutes away from the homes of the people of Buenos Aires," he declared.
Commenting on his candidacy in an interview with Radio Perfil FM 101.9, Quirós said he hoped to bring greater empathy into politics.
“With what is happening to society, politics today requires empathy. We have societies that, after the pandemic, because of economic, social and political difficulties, are in a state of great pain and dissatisfaction,” he told journalist Jorge Fontevecchia.
“People have lost their expectations, trust and credibility towards leaders. In this scenario, all of us who are public servants have to make ourselves available. I think that part of the public values my ability to empathise with what is happening and my focus on citizenship,” he concluded.
Among those offering their immediate support to the health minister was Civic Coalition-ARI leader Elisa Carrió. She described Quirós as a person of “integrity” and transparency.”
"Together with the entire Civic Coalition I unconditionally support Fernán Quirós's candidacy for head of government because he is a good person, upright, transparent, republican and humanist," said the leader of the political space.
"For me he is a light that is opening up for a people who today are in a lot of pain and anguish and who want decency and wellbeing for the City of Buenos Aires that I love so much,” she added.