Yiannis Boutaris, Mayor of Thessaloniki, Greece
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Mayor of Thessaloniki (Greece)
The winner and runner-ups of World Mayor 2014 will be chosen based on the number of nominations in relation to the size of their cities and, more importantly, on the persuasiveness and conviction of testimonials received during this year's World Mayor Project. Below we publish a selection of comments received to date about WM nominee Yiannis Boutaris, Mayor of Thessaloniki, Greece.
Comment: I feel very proud being Greek when the most revolutionary and open minded person in the Greek political scene has been recognised and included in the World Mayor list. Mayor Boutaris is a modern philosopher, ahead of his generation. A person who can positively influence the masses, motivate them to become better persons and civilians. His authentic speaches have touched the hearts of many people of my generation as he has overcome the 'Greek political perosna' who lies to gain votes. A revolutionary mind who walks around his town and talks with everyone so he can feel the problem and difficulties of the people of Thessaloniki. I really hope he will this prize! We should motivate those people to remain in the politician scene of our country and force all others leave. (By Mika P, Crete)
Comment: The reason I vote for Mr Boutaris is that he is one of the few people who actually care about those living in the city. Everything he does is for the benefit of the city itself and the habitants and moreover he is trying his best for the improvement of Thessaloniki despite of all the economical problems our country in general faces. He is a pioneer and doesn't afraid to express his opinion openly and freely where furthermore sees the future and the needs of all regardless of their race, religion, sexual preferences, age e.t.c..Since i'm currently living in Thessaloniki and I've been staying here for the past ten years, I find that his efforts are the most respectable ones compared to all those of the previous mayors in the past. I strongly support him for the award and since I do not have the right to vote in Thessaloniki I will give him my vote now for this award. (By AK, Thessaloniki)
Comment: I am a 16th generation Thessaloniki citizen and I think Yannis Boutaris is by far the best thing ever happened to this city since it became Greek in !912. For the first time after this date Thessaloniki is opening to the world. But the most important reason for me to stand for him is that he gave me back my pride of being a Salonika Jew only by acknowledging publicly the lost of 1/4 of the city population during Holocaust. (By Erika P, Thessaloniki)
Comment: I wish to support the candidacy of Mr Boutaris because his initiatives and achievements have come at a particularly difficult time (the crisis in Greece) and moreover in a particularly ‘difficult’ environment ridden by introversion, nationalist spirits and a long tradition of clientelism (Greece). Mr Boutaris has made important interventions in the city and its governance, including tidying-up the municipality’s finances, while at the same time improving the quality of life of its residents (improvements on the sea-front, on rubbish-collection, on the accessibility of cultural heritage monuments, and more). Moreover, Mr Boutaris has taken an active role truly unusually for Greece in ‘branding’ the city, re-discovering its multicultural heritage and using active diplomacy to bring-in cultural / archaeological tourism and to facilitate business links (and much needed exports) for the city’s small entrepreneurial base. He is in many respects a blessing for the city, which has historically one of the highest unemployment rates in the country and a notorious degree of introversion / passive localism. (By Dr Vassilis M, London, UK)
Comment: I would like to vote mr. Boutaris for the following reasons:
1) He decided to run for the elections without being supported by any political party. This made him the first independent mayor in the modern history of my city.
2) He defended all cultural elements regardless of their origin in a period that our society was growing an antisemitic feeling. Namely I state that in the period of Boutari's first service, the extreme right (fascist) party entered the parliament for the first time in our modern history. Some of the mayor's initiatives include the defense of the jewish community, the reopening of Kemal Ataturk's house and the organization of the gay pride festival.
3) His life experience stands as a source of motivation for the youths. Boutaris was an alcohol addict and he managed to fully overcome his illness. He is one of the key members of alcoholic anonymous in Greece. He is founder and active member of several NPOs. Boutaris founded Arcturos (ecological non-profit organization) and he is a member of YMCA Greece. He has also been involved in several professional activities. He runs one of the most famous wine-producing companies in Greece, he had participated in the council of ARIS BC, the historic basketball team of the city.
The above show a man who is driven, ambitious, willing to offer to the society and able to make demanding decisions. He has great experience from different industries and activities. The way that he has managed the mayorship in the previous years is a direct result of his past experience.
As a result of Boutari's service, our city is growing rapidly in tourism and is more hospitable for its inhabitants. We are now able to use the new social bicycle network, enjoy a walk in the renewed coast and shop in the new pedestrian streets. (By Agapitos D, Thessaloniki)
Comment: Please register my vote for the candidacy of Mayor Boutaris. I have been living in London, UK, for the past 15 years, but was born in Thessaloniki. I have known the issues and challenges that the city has been facing, issues that have been accentuated by mismanagement and by the wider, national and global financial circumstances. Mr Boutaris has been a breath of fresh air, including for his attitude towards management, proper financial control (you must know that the previous mayor of the city is serving a prison sentence for embezzlement of public funds whilst in office!) and wider politics. Furthermore, Mr Boutaris has infused vision, ethos and humanity into this office. His positive stance on the rights of minorities and homosexuals (issues not at all ‘secured’ in Greece in 2014 (please see news reports on far right groups making progress in Greek politics). Beyond a Mayor, Mr Boutaris is a beacon of liberty for the wider area. A light all too precious under the circumstances and a sign of hope. (By Theo B, London, UK)
Comment: Mr Yiannis Boutaris is definetely old. I don't remember his exact age but he is undoubtedly over 70. My parents have tought me through the years to judge people not by their age [or sex, religion, sexual orientation, colour, appearance, political views, etc.], but their ideas' age. This is mainly the reason for my belief that "Mr-Yiannis" [as we often call him in Thessaloniki] is a young person. I have met him several times in places which are kind of "occupied" by the youth generation. He constantly makes jokes and he even accepted to particapate with nude photos in a photoshooting campaign against AIDS. He has tattoos and an earing, elements that are making him truly unique among elected politician. Overall he is happy and optimist, since he belong to the mighty group of people who actually stood against alcoholism and beat it. He is a successful wine-making entrepreneur in Greece and I stress this out because entrepreneurship in Greece is a really tough thing to achieve in a successful way.
But these are not the only things for why I consider he should be the "World Mayor 2014". In my opinion, his major achievement is that he managed to change the "image" of the city of Thessaloniki in a multilateral way. Mr-Yiannis inhibited the image of an extremely conservative city and replaced it with a strong wind of extroversion. Since his first election not so many years ago, Thessaloniki has permanently left the old years of corruption and bad administration. The clientelistic relationship with the voters [remnant of the previous administration - the previous Mayor has been sentenced to life for economic scandals] belongs to the past. The enormous deficit of the municipality's budget is now diminished to nearly zero, the tourism industry of the city [which has a remarkable byzantine history] has been regenerated and many changes have occured to the municipality's working body [such as the establishment of the "french model" in local administrations which guarantees the municipality's employees don't rely on their political supervisors but function indepedently from the elected administration to avoid scandals]. In the last few years Thessaloniki looks different: the live music concerts are innumerable, the LGBT community can freely express itself in public ["Gay Parade", etc.], the city's [limited, due to historical reasons] public space is used with a different, more pedestrian-friendly way and so on.
In the context of huge political instability, unprecedented financial, social and ethical crisis, state bankruptcy, social state collapse and public space crisis, Mr Yiannis Boutaris didn't just gained the people's trust in an era of political suspicion and misery, but used it for the city's benefit in order to build a hopeful future.That is our Mr-Yiannis!Thank you so much. (By Avgerinos A V, Thessaloniki)
Comment: I was born in Thessaloniki and I have been living in this city for a great part of my life. I support the candidacy of Mayor Boutaris and my reasons are :
• His unique character and personality.
• His will to convince people that he is well intentioned and he knows the way to produce positive work.
• He strongly believes to the abilities and qualities of his young colleagues and consultants. (By Harry J N, Thessaloniki)
Comment: I don't live in Thessaloniki, but I really feel mr Boutaris is one of the best mayors in Greece, for the last 35 years. He is has tranformed the city from a very conservative place to an open and welcoming city, he is trying to solve the real everyday problems without looking for someone else to blame, he makes real effort and produces real results. He is not afraid to stand up to fascists and has not allowed them to roam Thessaloniki as it has happened in other Greek cities the last few years.
He is also trying to work without any particular political party backing him up, and in that sense he trully is a mayor of all citizens of Thessaloniki. He tryies to convey the beauty of the city and funds serious public works that elevate the standard of living in the city. He is not afraid to state his opinion and welcomes anyone who may want to offer service to the public, no matter what the personal political views.
He is a comsopolitan and a Greek, a man who welcomes and enjoys diversity and beauty. (By R T, Athens)
Comment: Is the best mayor of Thessaloniki the last 25 years. I was educated in the University of Thessaloniki for 5 years 1990-1995 and last year went back to work in Thessaloniki in the University as Adjunct Lecturer in the Hellenic Open University, Thessaloniki Branch. The city has improved for the better but it was the cultural change and an attitude change that was immediately recognizable. The feeling was different and the city has something from the old cosmopolitanism with a huge crowd of tourist particularly from Turkey and Israel. All this due to the activity of Mayor Mpoutaris. Mr Mpoytaris with is uncoventional style and way of thinking is the best person in the best place the right moment to move the city aways of nationalisms and religious chauvinism in the era of cosmopolitim with an increased respect to environment and humans in the context of climate change. I vote Mr Mpoutaris for the best Mayor of the year. (By Stathis A, Athens)
Comment: I would like to vote for Mr Yannis Boutaris for the below reasons:
1) I like Mr Boutaris approach about the culture of Thessaloniki.
2) Due to his election, the city became open minded and multicultural
3) Finally there is transparency to our Municipality.
4) The inner city of Thessaloniki becoming gradually really friendly and beautiful
5) I am still having a hope for the future of my Town
Unfortunately since a year i live abroad (Berlin) and i would like to participate somehow to his effort. (By Georgio K, Berlin, Germany)
Comment: Yannis Boutaris and I attended and graduated from the same high school in Thessaloniki, Greece. He took over as mayor of Thessaloniki at a time that the city and country faced economic adverse conditions. Through perseverance and tenacity he turned this situation around in a very short time. By introducing transparency into the government operations, he has gained the support and admiration of his constituents, so now everyone rows in the same direction. (By Michael A G, Phoenix, USA)
Comment: The Mayor took over chaos and corruption and produced order and transparency. He took over a claustrophobic inward looking city. He turned into an extrovert entity and put it on the world map. He generated hope that things can be changed if we are rid of established bad habits. (By Simon B, Thessaloniki)
Comment: I vote for Boutaris, mayor of Thessaloniki:
For his outstanding contributions to his community.
For he has an avant-garde vision for urban living.
For his contribution in making his hometown affiliated to peoples, cities and nations across the world.
For he is innovative and always with new, radical ideas.
For being Cosmopolitan and art lover.
For he is politically independent and completely nonconformist.
For his ability to look at the forest rather at the tree.
For he is humanitarian supporting all minorities.
For his love and belief to the younger generation.
(By Petros M, Thessaloniki / Athens)
Comment: I vote for Mr Boutaris because he managed to infuse optimism in a whole city. Thessaloniki is a wonderful city with long and rich history, a city with splendid monuments, with one of the best Universities in Greece. Nonetheless, in the years before Mr Boutaris' election it seemed an abandoned city, closed, nationalistic, xenophobe, with a major problem of economical abuses that led the previous authority in prison. Now Thessaloniki, due largely to Mr Boutaris' efforts welcomes thousands of tourists every year, standing the nation-wide crisis it sees new business growing. Mr Boutaris' contribution to quality of life in Thessaloniki is of capital importance and it served as a model to all other Greek cities. (By Karagiannis E, Thessaloniki)
Comment: For the first time in decades, Thessaloniki is represented by a person with integrity, fresh mind (despite the paradox of his relatively old age), educated and smart, who has experienced his own life changing moments that were translated into long experience and wisdom. He is not a distant politician, as most in Greece, but a person that people can relate to.
He supports gay/lesbian- friendly events, breaking a long line of homophobia in this city, he questions the power of church and its propaganda.
The city itself has changed face. The whole coast line of the municipality, from the harbour to the borders of the next municipality (Kalamaria), has transformed into a park of high aesthetics and nicely maintained, creating beautiful walking and sitting areas that are quite unusual for a Greek city, following the examples of modern European cities.
He turns previous unsuccessful decisions that cannot be changed any more, into functional projects, such as the use of various spaces in the new town hall, where he turned the "private suite" of the previous mayor into additional offices for the employees.
To me, a person who continues to try and create in such conditions, with huge amounts of unemployment and the crisis covering each new initiative, takes courage and persistence. Mayor Boutaris has been proving for years already that he is a capable civil servant, who received an indebted municipality by the previous administration and is trying his best to not abandon Thessaloniki. His candidacy for world mayor is truly fair and hopefully will lead to his winning. (By Mariana A, Thessaloniki)
Comment: I “follow” Mr Boutaris since he was voted Mayor of Thessaloniki for the first time, over 4 years now. He is by far one of the most ambiguous politician of the recent years and I personally consider it a result of his honest intention to move forward. Many times the last 4+ years he is the “person of the day”, due to his subversive ideas and beliefs and the straight way of expressing them. Thessaloniki is by far one of the most beautiful cities in my country, thought recently has been seriously affected by the recession, and definitely this city deserves a pioneer Mayor. I live in Athens more than 10 years now….I have lived in Thessaloniki for 5 during my university studies and this city has a special place in my heart. (By Mandalenaki M, Thessaloniki)
Comment: I was born and raised in Athens, but currently I live in Komotini, where I study. I would like to see Mr.Boutaris win the 2014 World Mayor Prize, although my hometown is not Thessaloniki, not only because he is an example of democratic and openminded politician (one of the kind that my country really misses), but also because he is one of the most (unfairly in my opinion) criticised public figures in Greece.
The country I grew up suffers from misconceptions about the actual meaning of politics. Political parties have shown that they have absolutely no interest in people's welfare, but at the same time are stil actively involved and associated with politics in general. Mr.Boutaris' reelection as Mayor of Thessaloniki, a city being ruled by representatives of the government party for many years, send a strong message to all Greeks; politicians and citizens. But what surprised me the most was his actions.
Not only he chose to cut the cord from the parties, but he also re-established the meaning of what 'being a politician in Greece' actually means. Is not just a job; is a chance given to you by the people of your city, of your country. And the power given to you, should not be taken for granted.
And Mr.Boutaris respected his city and all its' people, but also he made it a role-model community.
He set himself before our eyes as an example of 'not a saint', unlike many. Open, sincere, original, forward, human.
• Not afraid to underline what we all see but no one talks about. Nazis in the Parliament, in our neighborhoods. Discrimination based on sexual preferences.
• Not afraid to express his true opinion about all the matters that no Greek politician has ever wanted to argue about. Religion-based allienation, Equality for all people. Respect to the history of all.
• Not afraid to crumple his image or unplease his alliances, if this meant that he would stay loyal to his ideas.
He's a man both admired and disliked. But he is a man that stands for what he truly believes in. And what he stands for, are the absolute foundations of democracy.
Freedom of speech (not in theory, but in action), Equality, Altruism, Respect. I believe that this is what makes him one of a kind. (By E G, Komotini)
Comment: I am sending you this email to vote in favour of Mr Boutaris as World Mayor. The reasons that extorted me towards this decision are various.
I am a Greek citizen and have spent the first 18 years of my life in Thessaloniki. Nowadays I live in the UK but I still spend a considerable time period in my hometown.
Since Mr Boutaris has been holding the city's reins, I have seen it transform. Maybe that is due to the major chasm between mr Boutaris and his predecessor but still, even by starting with a 100million euro black hole in the city's funds, adopted from past mayors, he has managed to make us proud for having him in the city's service.
His cosmopolitan air, combined with the fact that he is not a politician but a businessman and entrepreneur, while he is not trying to fake anything he isn't and admitting his errors in the past, which have included alcoholism, make him not only a role-model mayor, but a individual to look up to.
Changes in the city have been taking place, including changes in the city center regarding the car-traffic, some roads have become pavements, while the mayor has also started changing the character of the city's citizen, through he statements and actions. An example is that he refused to accept votes from people that have been voting for a known to be fascist party, unlike pretty much any other politician in Greece who prefers to pet the ears of the potential voters-pool, hoping to get re-elected and finds excuses for those who keep voting for such fascist and anti-democratic parties. Also, his participation in the Thessaloniki Pride and the fact that he wants to create a mosque in the city for the Islamic population in the city, going against the churches wishes which is known to have considerable power within Greece, have elevated mr Boutaris in my eyes, as he is a man that only wishes to upgrade his city, offer to the community, and he does so by refusing to become a typical Greek politician.
To sum up, every time I visit Thessaloniki, it is different, changed, in a good sense. The city has almost become a living organism, it breathes and has a pulse. Thessaloniki is again becoming the cosmopolitan city it once was. And mr Boutaris has played an important role in this resurrection. This is why I believe he deserves the World Mayor distinction. Thank you for your time. (By N G M, London, UK)
Comment: I am a 38 y.o. Greek man living in Athens Greece. Yiannis Boutari is the Mayor that transformed the beautiful city of Thessaloniki though the rough years of austerity. We had huge problems here in Athens, but Thessaloniki had the right mayor at the right time. He managed to have a surplus budget in 3 years and he disappear the huge deficit.
He also insisted and supported his citizens to finally accept the Muslim and the Jewish history of this city.
That's why although tourism in my city Athens feel by 19%, in Thessaloniki rose by 22% the same period.
He also strongly supports the equality of all people no matter what race or sexual preferences they have. He supported the first gay pride march and this year he brought to the streets most of the ambassadors of the city. This was so important the last year's cause he built a barrier to any far left attack (well known Golden Dawn) to immigrants or to the gay community.
I think he is the best example of how a city can be transformed and inspire other Mayors through the shocking years oft he austerity we had. (By A P, Athens)
Comment: I fully support the candidacy of Mayor Yiannis Boutaris for World Mayor. I'm born and raised in Thessaloniki, I live here for 23 years, my heart belongs to this city and I firmly believe that it's the most wonderful place in the world. Yiannis Boutaris, after having an extremely successful carrer as a wine producer, decided to be up for election in 2010, without the promotion of any of the greek political parties, and when he got elected he followed his sanitation plan with sound financial management. Besides, he promoted Thessaloniki abroad with several cultural, documentary, youth festivals. (p.e Thessaloniki International Film Festival, Documentary Festival, Thessaloniki the Youth Capital 2014 etc).
Still, I think the greatest fact about him is that if you stroll downtown you are definately going to see him walking in the streets, having a cup of coffee at Proxenou Koromila and being one of us :) Ηe deserves the Prize because he gives everyday his heart and soul to Thessaloniki. (By Angelina V, Thessaloniki)
Comment: Mr Boutaris goes further than being an excellent manager of the public purse and a fair and transparent head administrator (he is both these things, and spectacularly so. In his first term as mayor he inherited nothing but empty coffers and massive debts -due to despicable corruption by the previous occupant of Thessaloniki's Town Hall, who now serves a life sentence behind bars- and ended his first term with a decent surplus at a time of terrible crisis in the country). More importantly, he is a mayor who has changed the political ethos not only of local authority practices in Greece but of politics as such. He is now an exemplar of how a great politician should be (he gives politics a good name and makes engagement with public affairs appear as a most worthy pursuit in life). He is perhaps the best politician in Greece today and one of the best in Europe. He tirelessly, and vociferously, rises against racism, xenophobia and homophobia. He has managed to transform the political culture of his city by releasing all its productive and progressive forces that had been marginalized and silenced for far too long. He has challenged the local authority habits of decades and the cultural monopoly of ultra conservative forces. He is now in the beginning of his second term in office, and he has become both an example and a measure of how a great mayor and a great politician should be and act. (and not only in his native Greece). Although many tried to lure him to join a party and run for MP, he has steadfastly refused saying he's committed to local authority politics. He believes that the future of politics lies with the effectiveness and goodness of local authorities. This septuagenarian is the most youthful spirit in the world. (By P, Thessaloniki)
Comment: Mr Boutaris is one of the kind. Not only as mayors but as a person as well.
• Friendly to citizens
• Adequate to handle public employees
• Strong personality with a vast proffesional experience
• Role model for young people
• Helped with the problem of homeless people. Rarely you can see anyone in the streets. They all live in special lodgings. (By Maria K, Thessaloniki)
Comment: I live in Thessaloniki, where Mr. Boutaris acts, though I do not vote in his specific region. There are several reasons I consider Mr. Boutaris an excellent mayor, especially for Thessaloniki, a city that - as I read in a Greek magazine - he treats like his passionate girlfriend and not just like a city he is the mayor of.
The last years there huge improvements in tourism in Thessaloniki and I get to feel that since I am walking in its streets every day. Thessaloniki's history makes her a point of interest for many Turkish, Jews and Balkan people, but tourists come from all over the world, giving a different way of aura in the city that was missing from it.
He is being fought by some rather more conservative groups for accepting and inviting any kind of people, especially from Balkan/Turkey, to visit Thessaloniki. Even if local church authorities (yes, those are powerful over here - sadly) oppose to many of his ideas, Mr. Boutaris and the local authority in general tries to cooperate in order to offer more the people with special needs, poor or homeless people, that those days are growing more and more.
Moving on, Thessaloniki is quite different than it was half a decade ago and not only as tourism is concerned. There were several permanent as long as some experimental pedestrianizations of some streets in the city center; and Thessaloniki is a beautiful city to walk around. The same holds for the city's beachfront that now is available again, after being reconstructed for some years
Mr. Boutaris is a very progressive man for his age and this is what frightens and discomforts a part of the deeply conservative people of Thessaloniki. This city can only see better days with this mayor and his proven skilled counselors and a country gets better as cities of it improve. This is why Thessaloniki needs a mayor like this. This is why Greece needs more mayors like Mr. Boutaris. (By Dimitris O, Thessaloniki)
Comment: Testimonial in support of the candidacy of Mayor Yiannis Boutaris for World Mayor: Much like Obama did for the U.S. in 2008, Mayor Yiannis Boutaris has reinvigorated hope in his city and in the whole country with his mere against-all-odds election alone. Following his election he has set the example in both substance and style, adopting a matter-of-fact approach of running with the city that could not more timely. My home city, Thessaloniki, has become more stable, more international, more hopeful, all thanks to “kyr Yianni (Boutaris)”. (By Yanni L, London/New York)
Comment: I feel really happy and lucky to live in Thessaloniki now, when Yannis Boutaris is the major of the city. Apparently, I cannot compare him to the other candidates of the other countries, since I don't know their work, but I can surely compare him to the previous majors here. And he differs from all the others. I believe that he honestly cares about the city, I believe in his young and creative mind, I admire his attitude towards minority groups, he fights racism and facism - in a traditionally conservative city -. He has given a different aura to the city, while walking you can find the philarmonic band playing somewhere open air! Some streets are made for pedestrians on certain days and it is something like a fest, you can see the whole city walking outside next to the sea! He is friendly and familiar, he has made Thessaloniki a happier city! (By Christina P, Thessaloniki)
Comment: Because in a city with a history of at least 30 years of inert mayors he inspired, with his activity and achievements, a great part of the society. Because in a country where almost all mayors deal with everything but their cities’ problems, he tried and solved everyday problems. Because he reminded everybody that Thessaloniki has been always a city of many nationalities. Because in a period when the prophets of doom flourish, he is optimistic. (By George V, Piraeus)
Comment: My name is Maria and I live in the area of Thermaikos, a municipality close to the one of Thessaloniki where Mr. Boutaris is currently serving. I have never written an email like this before, as I have never truly believed in someone's good intentions in politics. Coming from a currently where nepotism and corruption is slowly turning into a tradition, I am fully entitled to have doubts. Speaking of corruption, Thessaloniki has had a long line of corrupt administration, conservatism and embezzlement.
When Mr.Boutaris was first elected mayor, I can honestly say I was happy because he was the complete opposite of the image of Thessaloniki I used to have; open-minded, unconventional, rebellious in many ways and blatantly didn't give a damn about the church. Which is exactly what was lacking in this city. I have no idea why the church has so much power over the 'flock'. Who came up with that word anyway? Baah completely different subject.
Since then, I have long gone from liking a person just because people and institutions I disliked, disliked him, to admiring a person for his team spirit and vibrant personality. Mr.Boutaris isn't crazy about power. He is a team player. He is also a man with a vision. His team is composed of young people who have displayed skills, talent and hard work without being constantly in the spotlight. It's more about actions than words. He is also true to his 'brand'. He is an old man with a young heart.
Thessaloniki has been a city with a different 'brand' for many years. Right-wing voters would vote for the right-wing, family-man like, church maniac who was backed by the two biggest political parties. He would be elected along with a team of like-minded short-sighted people. I seriously have no idea what happened then. To be honest, I didn't even care. They didn't attract me as a civilian. They didn't include me as a civilian. I wasn't a civilian and I didn't really know how to be one.
When Yannis Boutaris and his team were elected, I saw a drastic change in a very short period of time. I believe this is because he isn't a politican, he isn't up for speeches and self-promotion. He speaks only when he needs to speak and only when he is asked and has something to say. He saw the city as a home to his fellow citizens and not as a place he was running. And this is honestly what this city wanted.
Instead of our parents' parents, he reached out on us; the students, the young people, the future. This city has never felt more friendly, home-y. lively and beautiful.
I don't know what the other contenders for Mayor of the Year have achieved. I don't want to undermine their work, but I mean, for some of them like Ghent Mayor and Bordeaux Mayor, it is really hard to imagine that they have thaaaat much of a work to be done in their already beautiful and touristically appealing cities. Had you ever before, in the past, heard of a city in Northern Greece that every Balkan nation had stepped foot in? Wars, controversy, contradiction, identity crisis, financial crisis... to rebirth.
Why choose Boutaris for Mayor of the Year? Because I don't think he even cares whether you do or not. He has other priorities. He has his Hometown. (By Maria O, Thermaikos)
Comment: I have many reasons I am in favor of Yiannis Boutaris. I have lived in Thessaloniki for the past 5 years and have witnessed the transition of how this city is run by the previous and current municipal authorities.
To be specific, in Mr. Boutaris' first months in office he and his team managed to:
-solve the waste collection issue,
-get a transparent view of the municipal economic state,
-make the municipal services more extrovert and efficient.
To the present day, a significant change is visible in the city of Thessaloniki due to the:
-Pedestrianisation of small neighborhood streets, improving the quality of life in the city centre, thus making downgraded areas more safe and attractive.
-Hosting several events with the State Orchestra of Thessaloniki, open to the public.
-Defence of the restoration of Byzantine monuments that were found during the metro construction excavations from being neglected.
-Supported the selection of Thessaloniki as the European Youth Capital for 2014 with auspices and helping events, fora and organisations (such as the European Youth Parliament Greece).
-Established a minor, but helpful, funding from individual/private contributors to support his vision for the city.
-Action to indicate Thessaloniki as an approachable and promising touristic destination.
As a personality he can be provocative and blunt, but eventually honesty and being straightforward is preferable in my opinion than subterfuges. I wish you a wonderful and productive selection.(By Vasileios K, Thessaloniki)
Comment: Here's my vote for the 2014 World Mayor Prize. I choose Mayor Boutaris. The reason I want to vote for Mayor Boutaris for Best Mayor all over the world, is mainly because he is very open-minded. He totally supports the rights of affected social teams, such as gays, lesbians, etc. Also, he supports the right of anyone can believe in any God he wants.
Furthermore, in a country like Greece, where theft or misappropriation of funds is something common in many communities all over the country, Mayor Boutaris seems to understand his role and tries to clear the mistakes from the past.
Last but not least, he is totally opposite to the new upcoming nazi party called ''gold dawn''. At the time Greece faces a big challenge with the growing percentages of the Nazis and he doesn't have any problem to confront them and tell his opinion out loud. This is my opinion, thank you for considerate it. (By Stefanie K, Thessaloniki)
Comment: I wholeheartedly support Mr. Boutaris candidacy because he was never a politician. Instead, he had been a very successful businessman who was able, despite different shortcomings, to establish a reputable name for his products globally. He enjoyed success, name recognition and wealth solely by his work. His decision to become involved in politics derived from his wish to offer his services to his fellow citizens. He has the expertise, knowledge and know-how in order to transform the beautiful city of Thessaloniki from the decay it has fallen into. He is a no-nonsense person and I fully support him. He is a breath of fresh air in a corrupted environment. I wish him all the best!!!! (By Cleo K, Thessaloniki)
Comment: I live in Germany and I would vote for Boutaris. He is an open minded guy, with a young mind and very approacheable. He is always there to meet people of Thesaloniki and Macedonia in general. He has open the market for Turkish, Israelish and Balkan tourism in Thesaloniki. He is very active and loves his city. He could easily be the next world mayor in my opinion. Thanks, (By Stelios P)
Comment: I am voting for Mr. Boutaris and recognize him as the first mayor I have seen in my city to be close to the people living in the city and distant from country's central government politics. One of his distinct characteristics is that he gives weight to the voice of the youth, which brings new ideas to the table while being proactive and focusing on the long term benefit.
To support the fist argument regarding the youth, I would like to mention his continuous support for the cultural and community events that are being organized by youth committees and non profit companies in the city. Such is "Thessaloniki allios", the city's community day. Another one is the OpenCoffee event, which promotes youth entrepreneurship and startup initiatives in the city. He provided the meeting room of the city hall in order to increase the capacity of the event.
To support the argument of his focus on long term benefits I would like to mention the case of the Ryanair deal. Despite the protests of the opposition, he supported actively the funding of the company, while being able to negotiate the reduction of that funding. Result of that was a 10% increase of tourist arrivals to the city for 2013. Additionally, multiple every day flights started between Athens and Thessaloniki promoting more active collaboration between the cities and beating the lobby of high priced flights which existed up until that point.
Thank you for taking my vote and my arguments into account. (By Ikaros T, Thessaloniki)
Comment: I am writing to cast my vote for Mr Boutaris, Mayor of Thessaloniki, as a World Mayor. I was a student in Thessaloniki and left the city in 2011 to do further studies abroad. I had not been to the city for three years, and I recently visited. The city's transformation is remarkable and the changes are evident, even to someone visiting for a few days. I got the sense of a city, which is open to its citizens and the visitors-tourists. Public spaces have been reconstructed, including the mega-project of the new Thessaloniki promenade and even more projects are on the way. Thessaloniki was also known in the past as the city of elder and conservative people, this has also massively changed now. The city was the European Youth Capital for 2013, with many cultural events for young people taking place. Mr Boutaris has also given a significant boost to the organisation of events that would have been considered "provocative" and would have been rejected a few years back, such as the Thessaloniki Gay Pride (which is now in its third year) and the ThessalonINK, an international tattoo festival. Also, Mr Boutaris has recognised the city's multicultural past and the fact that this multiculturalism has been recently abandoned because conservative ideas were prevailing, that would give priority to the city's byzantine and ancient greek attractions and would support the countries nationalistic aspirations. Mr Boutaris has made an enormous leap forward by renovating and advertising attractions from the city's glorious ottoman and jewish past, such as the jewish cemetery and Kemal Ataturk's birth and early childhood home, which is now partly a museum and partly the offices of the turkish consulate. The city is now more diverse, more citizen-friendly and more tourist-friendly. The city is now a city of the world. (By Nikolaos K, Volos)
Comment: I vote Mayor Yiannis Boutaris, Thessaloniki, Greece, fro World Mayor 2014 for various reasons like: Yiannis Boutaris is not a member of a political party. He was a successful businessman and he went into politics to achieve radical change in the city. Mayor Boutaris visited other sities, e.g. Berlin, trying to learn how to deal with waste disposal, public relations, infringements of municipal regulations and other areas of local government. (By Tasos L, Thessaloniki)
Comment: I believe he should be the winner because he's un-corrupted, he has a genuine, pragmatic vision and plan for the city and because he is an ecologist. Yannis Boutaris is actively working for a cleaner, safer and more civilized city. He has gone as far as putting shaming stickers himself on cars parked illegally all around the city centre. He actively promotes diversity, be that cultural, religious, ethnic, sexual etc. In the large pool of dirty mud that the Greek political system has become, he's the shining exception that inspires hope into everyone that looks into a brighter future. (By Eleni X, Thessaloniki)
Comment: Boutaris should win not only because he successfully manages a city that was drowning on debt and corruption prior to his administration, but mostly because he brought a completely new concept in local governance.
A great example is that he managed to match the ethnic and religious diversities of the city with an immensely successful tourism development plan, bringing revenues, jobs and new opportunities to the second larger city of Greece.
As a very successful entrepreneur and a herald for Greece’s agriculture (he runs one of the most prominent wineries), he brought management skills to politics and did it in style!
There are many people who recommend Boutaris for President of the Republic, therefore this is an excellent candidate for the Mayors’ award! (By P P, Athens)
Comment: Mayor Boutaris has really help young people and the olders to be more happy. We, here in Thessaloniki have a new paralia (seaside road) only for walking and bicycles. We have sides in the roads for bicycles and many people either they are at their 20s or 60s use bicycles as main transportation. Me too. When I moved here, 10 years ago, to use a bicycle every day was like a "suicide mission". He says that young people is the future of the city and he organize many events for young people. Thessaloniki is Europe young capital of 2014 and mayor Boutaris make that happen! When he elected 4 years ago he assumed office of mayor, city hall was a mess financially. Now it's profitable! He is at his 70s but he thinks like a 20-30 years old man. Mayor Boutaris deserve to win. (By Fani G, Thessaloniki)
Comment: I vote for World mayor 2014 Yiannis Boutaris, even that I am not living in Thessaloniki anymore. However, every time that I visit it, as it is the place that I born and grow I see that my city developed more, economically, culturally, spatial.
The mayor express in a high extent the style of the city and more specifically is a modern outcome of this style. Yiannis that is how everyone calls him in the city took the city from the ruins of the previous administration and in short period of time it gave back the historical identity to the city; the identity that has been ruined from the former mayors.
He improves the tourism in the city.
He enhances urban green and through innovative activities promotes urban agriculture projects. Both of these Issues influence directly the economy and the micro-climate of the city.
He promotes the usage of bicycle. He increased safety. He organize innovative festivals Gay Pride and Thessaloniki youth capital.
He is a mayor that knows how to manage the city even in a period of economic crises. With Yiannis city is back to the citizens.
According to my perspective is the only winner between all the others as he acts in a big multicultural city in a country with many economic problems. The people like him and they are fanatics for him. The city looks fancy with mayor Boutari!!!!
Last but not least he faced very early with true political justification the extremely high rise of fascists in Greece. To set it simple when the others mayors all over the world save kitties at the traffic lights Yiannis was saving families of immigrants from fascists!!! (By G K)
Comment: Here are some reasons why i would choose Mayor Giannis Boutaris for the best Mayor.In a period of huge economic crisis in Greece(and in Thessaloniki) he managed to tuck the finances of the municipality (from the scandal of the former mayor of Thessaloniki) and continued with such innovative ideas for the city area.With 40% decrease of government funding he managed to decrease the municipal taxes for the citizens,he modernized the infromation system and the city's accountant's office and all these from external and alternative resources.At his first period a vital construction for the city(the part of the coastal) was finished and delivered to the citizens. Furthermore,new traffic regulations were held,to help revitalize the shopkeepers and the citizens passing from/to the central area, considering the fact that on the same time in many city areas,Metro is being constructed. Bike paths were placed in most central routes.He managed to clean the city(that in one point was one of the dirtiest cities in Balkans)and with the parallel information that gave to citizens to start recycling. He strengthened the poor providing food and permanent shelters to those who can't afford it.He managed to bring tourists back in Thessaloniki(just by taking advantage of the history and culture of the city).He fought for the equal rights of all citizens regardless of their gender, religion, origin and sexual preference. To sum up he brought in the city a new wave,with his spirit of cultural change,modernization,upgrade,radical reorganization. He is the first mayor ever that citizens feel safe for and the only one who really cares for the city and its problems. He is the best mayor Thessaloniki had and will ever have. (By Jeremy, Thessaloniki)
Comment: After more than two decades our city has chosen a real person as the head of it. Yiannis Boutaris is far from the clean-cut, politically correct image every politician fights to gain. He is an ordinary person, truly living in the city with its people and it's a daily routine to meet him on the street and talk to him, like you would do to a person you know and more importantly, trust. No bodyguards, no policemen around him, just an ordinary person, walking around and talking to everyone. In a time span of four years he managed to tidy the overwhelming debt the previous administrations have caused (it's no secret that our former mayor is in jail for defalcating 17 million euros). Despite the recession in Greece, the city is constantly on the works, streets are being fixed, the city lighting too, and in the past four years we've seen many incomplete -for decades- works, being at last finished. He is highly controversial, a former AA, but that is what makes him more accessible. In the elections of 2010 he won for just a few hundred votes more than his political rival(in a city of 250.000 citizens). In the last elections, a few months ago, he was re-elected with a staggering 60% and I believe this says it all. (By Iraklis T, Thessaloniki)
The philanthropic City Mayors Foundation awards the World Mayor Prize every two years to a mayor who has made outstanding contributions to his / her community and has developed a vision for urban living and working that is relevant to towns and cities across the world. The Prize has been awarded since 2004.
Anyone voting for a mayor is also asked to consider whether his / her candidate is likely to agree to the City Mayors Code of Ethics. Mayors wishing to be considered for the World Mayor Prize will be asked to sign up to the Code.
Votes must be accompanied by a thoughtful supporting statement.
First-round nominations were accepted until the middle of May 2014. A longlist of 121 candidates was published on 22 May. A shortlist of 26 nominees was announced on 18 June 2014. A second round of voting will take place between now and the middle of October. The winner of the 2014 World Mayor Prize and other results of the World Mayor Project were announced on 3 February 2015.
The philanthropic City Mayors Foundation, the international think tank on urban affairs, organises the World Mayor Project and awards the World Mayor Prize. The Prize, which has been given since 2004, honours mayors with the vision, passion and skills to make their cities incredible places to live in, work in and visit. The World Mayor Project aims to show what outstanding mayors can achieve and raise their profiles nationally and internationally.
The organisers of the World Mayor Project are looking for city leaders who excel in qualities like: leadership and vision, management abilities and integrity, social and economic awareness, ability to provide security and to protect the environment as well as the will and ability to foster good relations between communities from different cultural, racial and social backgrounds. Mayors wishing to be considered for the World Mayor Prize will be asked to sign up to the City Mayors Code of Ethics.
The winner receives the artistically acclaimed World Mayor trophy, while the runner-up is given the World Mayor Commendation.
Winners and runners-up
2004 to 2014
In 2014: Winner: Naheed Nenshi (Calgary, Canada); First runner-up: Daniël Termont (Ghent, Belgium); Second runner-up: Tri Rismaharini (Surabaya, Indonesia)
In 2012: Winner: Iñaki Azkuna (Bilbao, Spain); Runner-up: Lisa Scaffidi (Perth, Australia); In third place: Joko Widodo (Surakarta, Indonesia)
In 2010: Winner: Marcelo Ebrard (Mexico City, Mexico); Runner-up: Mick Cornett (Oklahoma City, USA); In third place: Domenico Lucano (Riace, Italy)
In 2008: Winner: Helen Zille (Cape Town, South Africa); Runner up: Elmar Ledergerber (Zurich, Switzerland); In third place: Leopoldo López (Chacao, Venezuela)
In 2006: Winner: John So (Melbourne, Australia); Runner up: Job Cohen (Amsterdam, Netherland); In third place: Stephen Reed (Harrisburg, USA)
In 2005: Winner: Dora Bakoyannis (Athens, Greece); Runner-up: Hazel McCallion (Mississauga, Canada); In third place: Alvaro Arzú (Guatemala City, Guatemala)
In 2004: Winner: Edi Rama (Tirana, Albania); Runner-up: Andrés Manuel López Obrador (Mexico City, Mexico); In third place: Walter Veltroni (Rome, Italy)