by Katerina Kantartzis & Vicki Preston, September 2007
Less than a year into his second term in office, our Mayor, Yiannis Rangoussis, has been “headhunted” by the leader of the political party PASOK, Giorgos Papandreou. Assuming the position of official party spokesman for PASOK, he will have an extremely busy and demanding schedule over the next few weeks leading up to the general election which will take place on Sunday, 16th September. He will then take up the position of “Boulevti Epikrateias” (State MP), which is an appointed rather than elected position in Parliament.
Having already served four years in office, Mr Rangoussis was re-elected in October 2006 to be the Mayor of Paros for a second term. He won the election with a large majority and began his second term in January this year, eager to complete a number of important projects already begun by his team.
During this summer frequent interactions between Mr Papandreou and Mr Rangoussis were noted by many. The citizens of Paros were hardly prepared, however, for the shock of discovering that their popular mayor was leaving office. On 21st August Mr Rangoussis officially resigned as Mayor of Paros to assume his new position with PASOK.
While in office Mr Rangoussis has implemented many improvements to the island’s infrastructure while showing a strong commitment to the protection of the environment and to the development of Paros as an artistic and cultural centre. He has promoted recycling, beginning with an educational programme for schoolchildren that is now being followed by the introduction of recycling bins around the island and the soon-to-be-opened sanitary waste disposal system (the XYTA). Supporting the work of Greenpeace, this summer the Municipality placed a series of the organization’s posters along the island’s roads.
Despite the proliferation of art exhibitions and other cultural events over recent years, Mayor Rangoussis managed to make an appearance to demonstrate his support of the arts at a great number of these functions and has made municipal resources available on many occasions to assist in setting up and organizing cultural events.
Mayor Rangoussis was also instrumental in the implementation of Paros’s new air ambulance which has already saved lives by successfully transferring many emergency patients to hospital in Athens or in Syros.
The island’s international community was impressed by his willingness to meet with them on two occasions last year which were set up specifically for the purpose of allowing them to ask him questions and get clarification on municipal plans and services. Many members of this community have also had the chance to meet with him on an individual basis to discuss their concerns and ideas. He has said on more than one occasion that he values the contribution of those who have moved from other countries and chosen to make their home on Paros, as the island can benefit from their varied knowledge and expertise. His attitude has greatly helped in the integration process of the local and foriegn populations of the island.
Nevertheless, Mr Rangoussis has always stressed that his achievements have been the result of teamwork with the people of Paros and the other members of his Municipal Council, and not of his own effort alone.
Asked about their impressions of Mayor Rangoussis, people talk of a charismatic speaker with excellent discursive skills, genuinely interested in the welfare of Paros and its citizens. Some of them, however, view this development as “inevitable” as they say his work on Paros was just a “stepping-stone to higher things” and that he has always been very politically ambitious.
A member of the municipal council told us that he believes it is “a great honour for Mr Rangoussis to receive such an invitation, and he was right to accept it”. He wishes him good luck, and is sure he will be very successful in his new position. He also noted how positive this step was for Paros and the Cyclades: “Mr Rangoussis is very strongly attached to Paros, his family is here, he grew up here, he will not forget us”, he said. This council member, along with a number of other Parians we spoke to, believes that having Mr Ragoussis in a more powerful position in central government will be extremely beneficial for Paros.
Not everyone feels so positive, though; some speak of how they feel “betrayed”, even “abandoned”, by the man for whom they voted and expected to be their mayor for the next four years. Others are concerned about who will be his successor and whether they will be able to manage the job effectively.
“He is very charismatic”, one resident told us. “I always said he would go into politics, and I think he could even be prime minister of Greece one day”. Another said: “I am happy for him, he has done well and having someone from the island in a position of authority will be good for us.” But feelings are often mixed; many Parians feel betrayed yet simultaneously proud; angry but also pleased for Rangoussis’ success. One person put it this way: “I am disappointed that he is leaving, because I really believe he has done a tremendous amount of good for this island. I voted for him to run again because I expected him to do a great deal more in his second term and so I feel disappointed that he has left after just one year.”
Yiannis Rangoussis himself addressed the citizens of Paros in his final press release dated 20th August as follows:
“This is the last press release with which I will be addressing you as your Mayor. A position which you gave me the great honour of serving with all the power of my soul and my mind for five whole years.
“I now have the opportunity to serve our country and Paros from an undoubtedly higher position, and I want to reassure you that I will do everything I can to ensure the development of our island.
“I have never seen, and never will see, my Parian compatriots as “green”, “blue” and “red”.
“I deeply care about and will always fight for the progress and development of Paros. I will vigourously support any efforts for improvement by any Parian citizen with all my power and from any position in which I find myself. And I will always pay particular attention to the youth of our island and the future of our children.
“The proposal by Mr George Papandreou to take over the duty of State Member of Parliament and the responsibility of press spokesman of PASOK, was an exceptional honour for me, for our island and for all the Cyclades.
“Such an offer has never been made before to the mayor of a municipality of the Greek periphery or to the representative of the local council from the islands of Greece. It is also the first time it has been offered to a Parian citizen.
“Therefore, despite the sadness I feel and how hard it is for me to step down from the particularly honourable position of Mayor of Paros, I did not feel that I had the right to turn down this offer of a position of such responsibility.
“I had indeed committed myself to being the Mayor of Paros and that is the reason I turned down the proposal to be a candidate for MP of the Cyclades. But I could not have imagined that I would receive such an honour from Mr G. Papandreou, one which I now believe I should not and could not refuse.
“I am proud of the results of our communal efforts and common labours. The results of our combined efforts are obvious in every corner of Paros. I have always said that this work is the result of teamwork which we all carried out with persistence and patience, methodically and consistently.
“Everything that is needed for the smooth continuation of our island’s progress is already in place. There exists a team of colleagues and friends with whom I have worked with obvious success. Their accord, good sense and stability makes it certain that they will be committed to seizing every opportunity to unite our island and ensure its progress. They know their duties in every detail through to the end of the four year administrative period. They will always be in my thoughts and in my heart and I will always be with them. I thank them with all my heart.
“Dear friends, I wish to publicly express my gratitude to our beloved Bishop Ambrosios of Paronaxia, and the priests and members of the Metropolis of Paronaxia for the unity of the Municipality and the church, their only aim being the good of the people of Paros.
“In addition to my worthy colleagues, I also wish to thank the administration and staff of the Municipality and the Municipal Organizations, with whom I have worked all these years and with whom so many important things have been accomplished. I also want to thank the president and the members of the Velentzio Foundation, the president and members of TEDK, the members of Parliament of the prefecture, the General Secretary and administrative team of the Cycladic region, the Prefect and the Council of the Prefecture (Nomarchy), the Eparchos and the Council of the Eparchy, the members of the educational community, the members of the societies and organizations of our island, and of course the members of the Federation of Parian Societies in Athens. I thank each and every one of them.
“I also want to thank wholeheartedly all the members of the municipal and local councils supporting the same or opposite political party, from 2003 until today, everyone who gave me the honour of taking part in two elections, all the administration of the government, management and public services – particularly the doctors and members of the Health Centre – and also the representatives from the press of Paros and the Cyclades.
“The biggest thank you goes to you, my beloved compatriots, because together we accomplished something great: we paved the way for union, work, progress and accomplishment.
“If there is anyone whom I offended during my period in office, I apologize. I want them to know, however, that if this was the case, it was solely in pursuit of the overall good of our island.
“Dear compatriots, allow me also to publicly thank, from the bottom of my heart, my wife Katerina and my darling children Nicolas, Irini and Vasiliki, my father Captain Nicolas, and my relatives and friends for their moral support and their love all these years.
“Finally, I want you to know that I had planned to inform you personally of my point of view on Saturday the 18th of August. However, due to the elections being announced earlier than expected, I was obliged to postpone this until a more suitable time after the elections.
“Me agapi (with love)
Yiannis N. Rangoussis, Mayor of Paros"
Following the official resignation, the procedure for electing a new mayor was as follows. Within a maximum period of 15 days, Deputy Mayor Mrs Marouso Fragouli (who had the largest number of votes in the last election), had to call all the members of the Municipal Council to a meeting to vote for one of the existing council members to succeed Mr Rangoussis. This has now taken place and the newly-elected Mayor is the previous President of the Municipal Council, Christos Vlachogiannis.
He released the following statement on August 31st:
“It is a great honour for me to have been elected as Mayor, and I want, once more, from the bottom of my heart, to thank my friends and colleagues on the municipal council.
“I want you to know that I am fully aware of the responsibilities and duties I am taking on. I know the scale and depth of the problems and I am sure that with the help of my colleagues on the council, the staff of the municipality, but most of all with your help, we will reach the goals we have set ourselves, and everything will work out well.
“I am also very much aware that I am following into office a very successful mayor who, throughout his tenure, raised standards to new heights. He managed and we managed to have Paros mentioned many times as an example to follow. I promise that this effort will continue with persistence and with even more intensity.
“The problems, though, as we all know, never come to a complete end. There are still many issues that are in constant need of solutions.
“I ask you all to be present in these efforts, for us to work as hard as we can, and to rid ourselves of any divisions between us in order that we can make our Paros an even better place.”
"Christos Vlachogiannis, Mayor of Paros"
We wish Yiannis Rangoussis the very best in his new position and hope he will be able to continue the work he has been doing for us at a national level. And a very warm welcome to Christos Vlachogiannis as the new Mayor of Paros.