From the Scottish Daily Record http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/news/tm_headline=it-s-like-scotland-winning-the-world-cup--&method=full&objectid=19234765&siteid=66633-name_page.html
2 June 2007
IT'S LIKE SCOTLAND WINNING THE WORLD CUP
MEET THE FIRST SCOT TO BECOME A TOWN COUNCILLOR IN THE SPANISH HOT SPOT OF TENERIFE Glasgow expat Steve Gerald's delight after his win in island vote
By Colin Kirby
BUDGING Brits from bar stools and sun beds in Tenerife is a major achievement. Glasgow-born Steve Gerald can now add that boast to an impressive array of talents after riding a wave of expat support to become the first Scots councillor in the Canary Islands.
"It was like Scotland winning the World Cup," said the 42-year-old, summing up his elation after his victory was sealed on election night - Sunday, May 27.
The huge number of expats swelled the votes cast in Santiago del Teide, one of 31 council municipalities which make up the volcanic island.
Brits certainly made a difference but Steve's support is equally strong among the local people, who have taken him to heart after a three-month holiday break turned into a 23-year love affair with Tenerife.
Steve looks the part in his campaign suit and tie but the morning after his triumph he is back in more familiar casual dress.
Perched over two buckets, Steve is peeling spuds and cutting chips for The Chicken Shack, the restaurant he and Canarian partner Goyo own in Puerto Santiago, a traditional fishing hamlet next to Los Gigantes. Hard work is a way of life for Steve, born in the Shawlands area of Glasgow, the youngest of three brothers. He was delivering groceries after school at the age of 12 and selling from his uncle's fruit van at weekends.
Even from that age, Steve wanted to be a chef and at 16 he started a two-year City and Guilds diploma at Glasgow College of Food Technology.
Never one to be idle, he got practical experience working as a chef at the Sherbrooke's Castle hotel during the week and turned his hand to other platters at the weekend as a pub DJ. And he put the money to good use.
"I had a college grant but I didn't really need it as I was earning good money, so I started taking holidays abroad," said Steve.
With the college course finished and a yearning to travel, a friend encouraged him to take a three-month break working as a DJ in Playa de las Americas, Tenerife.
"I had been there for one week when I knew this was the place for me - there could be no going back home."
Earning a reputation for whipping up the crowds, Steve was soon given the chance to work as a bar manager and DJ, later heading up the west coast to Los Gigantes.
"I took over The Piano Bar on the marina. It was quiet at the time but I soon had it rocking and had five great years there. People still talk about it and the times they had there."
When the owner closed the bar Steve decided it was time to take matters into his own hands. Spotting the opportunity offered by cheap back street premises, Steve and Goyo decided to buy. And in 1997, The Chicken Shack was open for business.
The restaurant soon became a magnet for locals and holiday makers with its basic recipe of chicken, chips and salad but Steve's personality was the vital X factor.
When the first English language radio station on the island, Power FM, was set up, Steve was a natural recruit but his lively outgoing personality proved to be a bit too hot to handle.
Always ready to champion the underdog, Steve upset several local groups with his tough questioning on his talk shows.
"I phoned one of the major tour operators and asked them why they doubled their prices in the school holidays and followed up with calls to ABTA (the travel watchdog) and an MEP. They didn't like that much," said Steve.
In fact, according to Steve, the holiday company put the pressure on and had him fired.
"I was sacked three times but kept getting asked back due to public demand," he said.
But it wasn't all high jinks, as Steve also became heavily integrated and involved in the local community.
The tiny village of El Molldo, for example, couldn't afford an annual fiesta - a great source of civic pride. So big-hearted Steve organised a series of fund-raising music shows and generated 'a325,000, allowing the celebrations to go ahead.
And the Chicken Shack also made two young girls' dreams come true, paying for the colourful costumes that won them the Carnival Queen title in Los Gigantes.
With the highest British population in the Canary Islands - at around 40 per cent - the mayor of Santiago del Teide wanted to reach out to the expats and last year chose Steve as his representative, which then led on to an invite to stand in this year's election.
The mayor's party, Coalicion Canarias, is a force that Steve can identify with.
He added: "It's a nationalist party but they want to share their culture and traditions with the British who have settled here.
"The Canarians' doors and hearts are always open to outsiders and that is one of the things that makes me love this island."
Campaigning around the 11 main villages of the area was long and hard and Steve closed the restaurant for 19 days.
In Spain, the vote is for the party but they produce a list of candidates in order of preference and their percentage of votes decides how many council seats they get.
Steve was seventh on the list but knew within three hours of the polls closing that he was in. A small celebration followed, naturally with a drop or two of good whisky.
It's easy for Steve to keep Scotland in mind as Tenerife shares the same flag and Saint Andrew, known here as San Andres, patron saint of the island's wine makers.
Steve's main focus is now on his new political role, commenting: "I will do everything I can for all the people in my four years in office and if they want me back, that's great.
"I'm still waiting though for my call from Alex Salmond. "Maybe he would like to give me the key to my mother city or we could just talk politics."
'I'm still waiting to hear from the First Minister. The pair of us could just talk politics'
'I will do everything I can for all the people during my four years in office and if they want me back, that's great'