Tallinn confirms new mayor
Taavi Aas is finally officially Tallinn mayor
Tallinn city council confirmed Taavi Aas as its new mayor November 2017. In accepting the position, Aas who had been the acting Mayor for more than a year promised to make Tallinn a caring and socially thoughtful city.
“We must be a city where nobody can say that their income doesn’t allow them to put their children into hobby groups,” Aas said.
“A city where every child gets enough to eat at lunchtime either in kindergarten or school, independent of the parent’s income. Where you can walk by the seaside and where you do not have to see dilapidated buildings in the centre of the city.”
Taavi Aas thanked all Tallinners who voted in the election and the city employees whose dedication runs the city.
He reflected on his past, mentioning when he started working for the city there was a car park in Freedom Square, ruined pavements and barbed wire planks in main roads in the Centre of Tallinn and the Cultural Hub was still an abandoned power station.
“We wish to develop, but we wish to do this in a balanced way,” Aas said.
“We must hope to develop, and preserve the environment. Create the new, and preserve and value the old. We will value entrepreneurs and not disregard carers. We will consider pedestrians and listen to the voice of car drivers.”
In accepting the position as Mayor, Tallinn Aas ended his speech by quoting scripture.
“Where there is the abuse, bring forth forgiveness. Where there is the discord, bring forth unity. Where there is an error, bring forth the truth, where there is the suspicion, bring forth faith.”
Profile of Tallinn’s New Mayor
Taavi Aas has been a public servant for 30 years. Aas has headed up many key projects such as the reconstruction of Freedom Square and the switch to free public transport.
Taavi Aas was born in Tallinn in 1966. He trained in agricultural economics at the Estonian University of Life Sciences. He is married with three children.
Tallinn’s diverse new government
Youth to work as elders
Tallinn’s new government was established at the end of November. The seven deputy mayors and eight district elders are distinguished by their relative youth, diverse linguistic makeup and good gender balance.
The youngest deputy mayor is 28 and the oldest is 61. Three deputies are women and four men.
Three deputy mayors speak Russian as their mother tongue and four are Estonian native speakers.
The Centre Party has an absolute majority in the city council, yet deputy mayors come from diverse political backgrounds. Aivar Riisalu used to belong to the right of centre Fatherland and Respublica Union. Vadim Belobrotsev 39, who was the former district elder for Mustamäe, was a Social Democrat.
Züleyxa Izmailova is currently the leader of the Green Party. She takes up her post despite the fact the Green Party does not yet have representation at either national or local level.
Here is the list of deputy mayors and their portfolios.
Tonis Molder, 28 social and health care
Aivar Riisalu 56 enterprise, tourism and innovation,
Eha Vork 55 real estate and city properties.
Andrei Novikov 35 city planning.
Vadim Belobrovtsev 39 education culture and sport
Kalle Klandorf 61 communal services, transport
Züleyxa Izmailova 32 environment, and citizens’ engagement
Tallinn has eight districts. The district elders who will run these districts were appointed at the end of November.
Marek Jürgenson will stay on as head of Haabersti city district elder, Maria Jufereva will stay on as city district elder of Lasnamäe, Raimond Kaljulaid will remain as North Tallinn’s city district elder.
The newcomers will be Lauri Laats in Mustamäe, Vladimir Svet in Central Tallinn, Grete Šillis in Nõmme, Alina Tubli in Pirita, and Jaanus Riibe in Kristiine.
Two of the district heads Maria Jufereva and Vladimir Svet speak Russian as their first language and the others are Estonian native speakers.
Tallinn district elders ironically are not old. Four of them are in their 20s and three are in their 30s. the oldest is Marek Jürgenson who is 40. The youngest is Vladimir Svet who is just 25. The elders have very different backgrounds. Laats and Kaljulaid are entrepreneurs. Svet trained to be a lawyer. And Jufereva was a former journalist and lecturer.
Tallinn’s new government promised to work to improve quality of life making Tallinn a greener city and a fairer city.
Tallinn budget increases and so does its income.
Taavi Aas: next budget will support children the youth and the elderly
Tallinn’s new mayor Taavi Aas said that next year budget will prioritise the young and the old, repair roads and streets and make other improvements to improve quality of life.
“This budget should be named the involved budget because so many projects added to the programme came from ideas from citizens in the Positive Tallinn scheme,” Aas said.
The budget for Tallinn next year is 683 million Euro, a growth of one percent which takes into consideration things like free school meals. 15 million Euro will be used to buy the grounds near to the City Hall.
Aas said a lot of effort had gone into making this budget work not just from city workers but from ordinary citizens.
When it comes to educational expenditure, Aas stressed the importance of free food in kindergartens and Estonian language lessons in Russian speaking kindergarten.
“Study groups should do more so that they teach more Estonian,” said Aas who said that this was one of the Centre Party’s electoral promises.
Aas said the city should deal with the renovation of kindergartens, the city plans to spend one million Euro just to move students and staff into replacement rooms whilst renovations are being done.
The 100 playground project is rolling out. The city will gift kindergartens with the playgrounds around the time of the nation’s birthday, which is February 24, 2018.
Also in the budget is a plan to build 30 bicycle parking spots next to schools. An idea which came directly from citizens.
Aas said the city’s second priority is pensioners.
“We intend to increase additional pensions for from 76 to 100 Euro,” Aas said.
“We will continue with the renovation of the health centre and build a new corpus for Iru care home.”
The new mayor added that the budget third priority is street and road repairs. The city anticipates spending 33 million Euro.
“This is the level which is necessary so that Tallinn’s streets and the roads can come close to perfect condition,” said Aas.
There is a noticeable growth in the amount the city is spending on repair works. Previously the sum spent on repair works was 25 million. Thus, the budget represents a 25 percent increase. In the long-term, the city intends to double the amount it spends on repair and construction works.
Taavi Aas believes the budget will continue to grow, but the city’s income will also continue to grow as incomes increase and the population rises. The budget is currently awaiting approval from the district councils.