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article imageSpain's Down Syndrome Councillor wants to be an honest politician

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By Anne Sewell     Aug 1, 2013 in Politics
Valladolid - Hoping to make a difference with all the corruption scandals in the Spanish government right now, 30-year-old Ángela Covadonga Bachiller makes history by becoming Spain's first Down Syndrome Councillor in Valladolid.
"I want to be an honest politician" said Bachiller as she began her job on Monday, as a representative of Spain's ruling Partido Popular in the city of Valladolid in north-western Spain. The previous holder of her post was forced to resign over corruption charges.
Bachiller told Spain's La Vanguardia newspaper, "I don't like dishonest politicians and those who don't work for the people."
Bachiller has known for some time that she would be taking up a new political role, but her family kept her out of the spotlight up until recently, when she was officially named a Councillor in the city's town hall.
"I'm very excited, a bit nervous and surprised that there has been so much media attention," Bachiller told the media. "It was a special moment in my life."
Bachiller has been working for the last two and a half years as an administrative assistant in the Department of Social Welfare in Valladolid. She narrowly missed out on a spot as Town Councillor in 2011, but along the way made many friends.
Because of those friends and the fact that she was so close to winning in those elections, Valladolid's city mayor Francisco Javier León de la Riva described her as "an example of strength and of someone overcoming obstacles."
Her father describes her as "a very responsible and stubborn kid" and her mother says that she is "prepared, qualified and discrete."
Her father told El País newspaper, "if she had to get up a six o'clock instead of seven to study because she was finding it (the schoolwork) harder, she would."
According to her boss in the social welfare department, Rosa Hernández: "The most important thing is that her family didn't overprotect her."
"She's tenacious and capable of carrying out her work at all times," Hernández added.
Ángela Covadonga Bachiller  Spain s first Down Syndrome Councillor starts her job with the Valladol...
Ángela Covadonga Bachiller, Spain's first Down Syndrome Councillor starts her job with the Valladolid city council.
Down España
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Bachiller's new position as a Councillor will mean that she will be taking part in municipal plenary sessions and other meetings. She is a strong believer that people with disabilities should be allowed to vote.
Bachiller told La Vanguardia, "I've always voted since I was 18 years old, but other people (in my situation) have never been able to."
In Spain, people with intellectual disabilities are theoretically entitled to vote. However, should a Spanish judge declare a person with a disability "incapacitated", they automatically lose the right to vote.
"We (people with disabilities) want the laws relating to the right to vote changed," Bachiller told La Vanguardia.
When Bachiller was asked whether she thought it should be a normal thing for people with disabilities to work as politicians she said, "Yes, but I have to admit that not everybody dares to include us on their electoral list."
While she recognizes that the road ahead of her will be tough, Bachiller hopes that she isn't the only one with Down Syndrome to become a politician.
And not only has she worked hard to attain her current position as Councillor. According to her father, she also studies English and plays the piano, "very well."
Never a dull moment ahead too, as her first activity on Monday was participating in a full council covering topics as varied as the accession of Valladolid to the Accessibility Network, the plans of supplier payment and also for the promotion of electric vehicles in the city.
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