Last month we published profiles of two of the four Mayoral candidates - Nikos Frangoulis and Ioannis Rangoussis. This month we feature Kostas Argouzis - the current Mayor - and Stylianos Bizas (see centre pages). However, as we have just learned that Mr Bizas has withdrawn his candidacy for Mayor, there are now only three candidates left in the electoral race.
The Municipal Elections will be held on Sunday, 13th October. If no candidate achieves an absolute majority, a second round between the two candidates with the highest number of votes will be held a week later on Sunday, 20th October.
In addition to voting for the new Dimarchos (Mayor), voters will also be electing the Nomarchis (Prefect) for the Nomarchia (Prefecture) of the Cyclades District and his representative (Eparchos) for the Paros Provincial District, which position is currently held by Nikos Arkoulis, pediatrician at the public Health Centre.
Together with the Dimos (Municipality), the Nomarchia has responsibility for many of the island infrastructure services - such as the airport, port, marinas, road network and reservoirs. The names of the candidates for the Nomarchia are due to be released on Friday 27th September (further information on 02810-84330) and therefore were not available at press time.
At this stage in the game, when every vote starts to look critical, all the players have developed an interest in knowing exactly how many EU citizens are eligible to vote. Apparently the deadline was extended yet again until 26th September (though unfortunately no-one informed us), so the number that we reported last month (around 20) might no longer be accurate. A representative for one of the candidates told us there were only 14 registrations on the electoral roll and the Municipality (from whom we got the estimate of 20 in the first place) asked us if we could tell them how many had registered (at the Town Hall)!
We asked last month for those of you who didn't register to write and let us know why - is it because you are indifferent, because you have insufficient information or because you are daunted by the idea of dealing with the red tape of bureaucracy? Do you think that your vote won't make any difference? Perhaps you haven't realized how critical the foreign vote could be in affecting the results of a local election in a place as small as Paros.
Non-Greek EU nationals on Paros are not alone in failing to register - only around seven percent of the estimated 45,000 foreign EU nationals living in Greece have signed up at municipalities around the country to participate in the October elections.
We'd also be very interested to hear from those of you who did register. What were your reasons for wanting to vote and what was your experience of the registration process?
Although my personal situation is slightly different from some other EU citizens (I hold dual nationality of both Britain and Greece), I found the registration process at the Town Hall to be an entirely straightforward, fast and simple exercise. Although I cannot vote this time because I will not be on the island in October, I have registered for future elections because, having chosen Paros as my home, my life is directly affected by the decisions made by local government. I want the air that I breathe to be clean, the water that I drink to be plentiful and unpolluted, the roads on which I drive to be safe and well-maintained, the economy from which I derive my living to be developing and thriving. I care about the elections because I love this island and I want those people to whom I entrust its governance to do a decent job of looking after it. It is in this spirit - which we know is shared by many of you - that we have tried to bring you as much information as we can about the candidates so that you can form an opinion as to who will be the best person to undertake this task. We also asked each of the candidates to give us a specific message for the foreign community so that you may have some idea from their responses how they imagine the role of this community in the island's political life. Their responses follow:
Nikos Frangoulis told us that he welcomes and appreciates the presence of an international community on Paros. He sees the foreign community as friends and believes that they honour and respect Greek hospitality. Nikos has also informed us that he is choosing a foreign representative from his party to act as a liaison person for the foreign residents. For further information, you can contact Nikos on 02840-21388, 51704 or 22088.
We were unable to get any statement from Kostas Argouzis and so can only repeat what he told us before the last elections: "I believe it is very important to have the collaboration of all the inhabitants of Paros including those who have come from other parts of Europe, especially from EU countries. Those who have originated from EU countries have experienced another way of life and different ways of organisation which can be very useful for us. They can also help us and our island Paros to participate in EU programmes."
Ioannis Rangoussis told us he is aware that there are many resources of international talent - especially artistic - that exist on the island and that he would like to see these resources developed to help promote Paros as a centre of culture in the Cyclades. He also sent us the following response for publication:
Dear Citizens of Paros,
This past April hundreds of citizens who live on the island, above and beyond political beliefs and views, have expressed freely their support of the coalition formed called "Unity for the Future" (Enotita Gia to Mellon) and have honoured me with their referral and proposal as mayoral candidate heading a party of mutual acceptance.
It was a gathering of unity, perspective and hope, where our slogan "Everyone together so that Paros may have a new beginning" was inspired. Paros is above all, above political parties, but also mainly above personal gains. It must surpass its problems and not lose any more opportunities. It can find itself at the front of all developments instead of lagging behind as compared to the other islands. Paros, like us, watches its tourism deteriorating and decreasing and the environment being constantly destroyed. Paros proceeds without plans, goals, strategy or a programme. This has to stop.
On the 16th of September we have announced to the Parian community the candidates which comprise our party. A party which harmonically synthesizes experience with the renewal of professional knowledge of life. A complete party which does not lack anything and one that guarantees that it will be able to face the challenges and necessities of the future.
I invite all of you who have made Paros your second home to participate with all your strength in our aim so that our municipal party “Unity for the Future” will be able to turn a new page on October 13th, leave behind the yesterdays and place Paros on an orbit of progress and development.
With sincere regards,
For further information, you can contact Ioannis at his electoral information office in Aligaria Square, behind the Hotel Kontes in Paroikia, tel: 02840-23012. A video of the April inaugural meeting of “Enotita Gia to Mellon” is available at Paros Life. Call 0973-620525 if you are interested in borrowing it.