At an extraordinary meeting held today the Tallinn City Council elected its current Chairman Mihhail Kõlvart as the new Mayor with 45 votes in favour.
Mihhail Kõlvart’s speech:
“Thank you for your trust and support. It is an honour as well
as a great responsibility to be elected to such a prestigious
position that has been held in the past by important historical
figures like Voldemar Lender and Jaan Poska.
I noticed that the year of my election happens to be somewhat
symbolic - last year we celebrated the centenary of the
Estonian Republic whereas this year we celebrate the Estonian
Language Year and the 150th anniversary of the first
nationwide Song Festival. The Estonian language is a symbol of
our country. The Estonian language is the core element of
Estonian identity and the foundation of Estonian culture.
Everyone living in Estonia should understand the importance of
the Estonian language and its cultural context. However, we
should acknowledge that Russians and other ethnic nationalities
living beside us value their language and culture. Cultures can
be complementary provided that there is no conflict between
them and that the different ethnic nationalities enjoy freedom
of expression and support each other.
Cooperation fosters development, including political
development. 115 years ago Estonians assumed public authority
in the City of Tallinn for the first time. The Estonian and
Russian factions supported one another to take control away
from Germans and gain the necessary majority for voting on
important issues. Tallinn has always played a special role in
Estonian history, including in promoting and shaping the
country’s independence. As the Mayor of the city which will
soon celebrate its 800th anniversary I aim to serve
and work for all its citizens regardless of my native language
Urban governance requires a clear vision and availability of
support structures. We need to have a holistic view of the
city’s present situation and its future which means that to
draw a proper roadmap we need to be able to envision what the
city should look like in 10, 20 or even 50 years. That vision
should integrate all areas of urban life - urban planning
combined with a system of municipal services. A good example
here is education which connects to all other areas ranging
from urban planning and social welfare to morning traffic jams.
Vision means the ability to see the connections between the
various elements of urban management. It also means the ability
to design regular routines so as to allow harmonious
development of the city and maximise the accessibility and
streamline municipal services.
Vision needs to be supported by structure whereas vision and
structure should evolve hand in hand. If you would ask me
whether municipal structures require changing and whether I see
those changes coming, I would say ‘yes’. But such changes will
not be based on an Excel spreadsheet and we will not cut back
the number of agencies or officials to achieve mere numerical
targets. We need substantive changes aimed at improving the
quality of services provided to our citizens.
Developing the City of Tallinn is a complex task because
developing a modern European urban environment requires
preserving historical as well as environmental values. And I
will endeavour to do my best.”
Mihhail Kõlvart has been the Chairman of the City Council since
autumn 2017 and in 2011-2017 he served as Deputy Mayor of
Tallinn coordinating the areas of education, culture, sports,
youth work and integration. Mihhail Kõlvart is a Member of the
Executive Board of the Estonian Olympic Committee.
Mihhail Kõlvart will assume the office of Mayor as of tomorrow.
The previous Mayor of Tallinn Taavi Aas took up office as a
Member of Parliament.