Following the resignation of Mayor Yiannis Rangoussis in August, the Town Council voted to elect the new Mayor of Paros from the two councillors, teacher Christos Vlachoyannis and dentist Stratis Pavlakis, who put their names forward as candidates. Mr Pavlakis received 6 and Mr Vlachoyannis 8 votes out of the 14 cast.
Although not originally from Paros (he comes from a village called Diava in the province of Kalambaka near Meteora), Christos has lived on Paros for almost 30 years, has come to love the island and consider himself as â€śParianâ€ť as if he had been born here. Indeed he was a natural choice as the next Mayor, having worked as the â€śright-hand manâ€ť of Mr Rangoussis for the past five years and having been concerned and involved with the problems of the island for many years before that.
Born in 1954, Christos studied as a teacher at the University of Larissa, graduating in 1974. In 1978 he took up his first teaching post on Paros and worked in a number of the islandâ€™s schools before taking a permanent position at the Marpissa Elementary School in 1990. At this time he also became active in local politics, serving as the Vice-President of the former Koinotita (Community) of Marpissa â€“ an unpaid position â€“ for 8 years until 1998.
In 1979, not long after his arrival on the island, he met Anna Triandafillou from Aspro Chorio. They were married in 1982 and have lived in Drios since their wedding. Their daughter, Effi was born in 1985 and is now working towards her degree in theatre studies at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
Christos was elected to the Town Council in the municipal elections of 2002 and he served as the President of the Council until his appointment as Mayor. He has also been working in his profession as a teacher, though the demands of his new position will mean that he has to resign from the school. He will certainly be missed there as he is much respected by his colleagues as well as by current and former students.
Christos is known as a calm, serious, honest, authentic and hard working man who is well versed in the problems of Paros and well prepared to take over the duties of leading the municipal team to continue on the course set by his predecessor. And he is in contact with Mr Rangoussis on an almost daily basis to ensure a completely smooth transition.
In discussions with him shortly after his appointment, we asked what were the greatest immediate challenges facing his team. He described these as follows:
- The timely construction of two desalination plants near Parasporos to alleviate the problem of water shortages. Each unit will be capable of producing 1,250m3 of clean water per day and the projected timing for completion â€“ if all goes well with the project â€“ is Spring 2008, in time for the 2008 summer season.
- The extension of the recycling programme all over the island (the project has already been underway in Paros schools for some time). With the assistance of the Hellenic Recovery Recycling Corporation , this is due to begin during the coming months and will allow citizens to recycle aluminium, plastic, glass and paper.
- The start of operations of the XYTA (sanitary waste disposal system). The contractor has asked for an extension to finalize this project which is now expected to be ready in April 2008. In the meantime, garbage is still being transported to the dumps at Piso Livadi, Naoussa and Marathi.
- Finalization of the 500,000 euro General Urban Planning Scheme (Genika Poleodomika Skedia) for the development and protection of the island, currently in its second phase. This should be completed in February/March 2008 at which time the Municipality will organize meetings with Parian citizens to ensure their opinions and ideas are incorporated in the final stage of the plan.
Christos comments on the excellent working relationship that the Municipality has long had with the foreign community and assures us that this will continue.
â€śOur ears are always openâ€ť, he says, to hear problems and ideas from everyone, and though he does speak some English, he asks that anyone who does not speak Greek and who needs to talk to him be kind enough to bring someone with them to help with the translation. (Maria Rangoussi, the Mayorâ€™s secretary, also told us that she is very willing to assist with translating as much as she can.)
We wish Christos and his team â€śkouragioâ€ť (courage) for the tasks ahead and look forward to hearing more about the Municipalityâ€™s plans in the monthâ€™s ahead.