The Friday market atlooks like many others. There are sellers of fruits, vegetables, fish, poultry, cheeses and more, second-hand clothes too and even a bored chair mender. But walking through the aisles, a stall denotes: nothing is for sale there.
Under the tent, seated on either side of a camping-style table, two ladies are conversing. One is Veronique lecauchois, the mayor of the city, the other is a resident. In recent months, the first has become accustomed every Friday morning to meet here Saint-Juliennoises and Saint-Juliennois. “In these times of pandemic and curfew, it is possible there rather than in town hall, we are in the great outdoors and no need to make an appointment”, justifies the elected.
People line up at a regulatory distance, express their wishes, evoke problems of nuisance, incivility, money worries. This exercise is not without risk: a scandal in a public place would make much more noise than in a corridor of the Town Hall. She replies, “It hasn’t happened yet. I see people, listen to them, see them again the following week with answers. ”
A model to follow
A form of participatory governance, direct democracy. Veronique lecauchois love. She is eyeing the other side of the border: Switzerland is a model to follow. To the point that she would see herself practicing a rotating presidency, a mayor who would change every year. Utopian according to the laws that govern the French Republic, whether you are a tenant of the Elysée Palace or mayor of a remote village.
However, Saint-Julien is not a hamlet: 16,000 inhabitants and the title of sub-prefecture. Large enough, diversified enough to practice collegiality with a Swiss taste: discuss, exchange, ignore clans and divisions, seek consensus. Complex in the land ofand you (ex-FN), “yellow vests” and Greens who want . But Véronique Lecauchois believes it: in March 2020 she won the town hall of Saint-Julien by taking the head of an improbable list of Socialists (her camp) and Republicans (ex-UMP, her potential opponents).
A UMPS coalition, laughed, the centrist outgoing mayor, severely beaten. Yet it worked. The voter voted for this unnatural alliance because his spokesperson made it clear that it was about taking the best of each and throwing the worst of all. Antoine Vielliard was not, however, a bad magistrate (opening of schools, redeveloped city center, cleaning up of finances, etc.). But he was probably staying a little too far from the people and his obsessions were boring. “Counting and recounting false Swiss residents living with us is good, but one day you have to move on, they are not responsible for everything,” slips an assistant.
Véronique Lecauchois owes her access to town hall above all to a strong temperament steeped in the inks of her childhood. A very busy architect father and never there, a mother employed every day at Citroën in Geneva, three brothers, a sister. She is the eldest and makes up for the absence of the father. “I became a dad to help mom,” she says. She is undisciplined, will spend six years in boarding school in Sallanches, does not like studying too much but loves drawing. She then went to Deco Arts in Geneva, is still able today to name each of her teachers, “such competent people”.
She became a graphic designer, did an internship at Bernex (GE). The employer wants to hire him but priority is given to Swiss graduates. Véronique Lecauchois gets a 50% at Terraillon (specialist in bathroom scales) in Juvigny. Then opened his own graphic design company in Annemasse. She is 20 years old, already a secretary and soon ten employees. It stacks up contracts with Terraillon but also with the town hall of Annemasse, the bar turning boxes of the Arve valley, the State of Geneva ( . Getting married, raising almost alone her two sons, because the husband is busy in Saint-Etienne, joins the Municipal Council of Annemasse alongside the mayor , one of the fathers of , mentor son.
Left at 4, arrived at 80
She divorces, founds with three other women the association “The city is yours”, lever which will carry it to the town hall of Saint-Julien. “We started at 4, we arrived at 80,” she sums up. Campaign slogan: listening, proximity, humility. She returned her PS card “because of an ego race that has become unbearable in the party”. Now it’s time to roll up the sleeves. Saint-Julien is approaching a turning point aboard the , whose extension to the station will increase the population and weaken social cohesion. Swiss people in need of housing in Geneva will flock. “Wages of the rich against smicards”, we hear. Three schools to be built, housing in spades, a police force that knows that crime will be more mobile.
Véronique Lecauchois relies on the municipal team (left as well as right or center) to cope. And also on its Friday market, which is the pulse of the city.
1957 Born in Chamonix.
1996 Birth of his first son, Philippe.
1998 Birth of the second, Thomas.
2009 Founds “The city is yours”.
2020 Elected mayor of Saint-Julien-en-Genevois.