Edi Rama, Mayor of Tirana, wins the the 2004 World Mayor award

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Edi Rama, Mayor of Tirana
elected World Mayor 2004
By Tann vom Hove, Editor

Edi Rama, Mayor of Tirana, has been elected World Mayor 2004. In an annual international competition organised by City Mayors, Mr Rama was not only strongly supported by his own community in the Albanian capital, but also by thousands of voters in other European countries and North America.

• Mayor Monitor for Edi Rama: Assess his performance in office

Runner up in the 2004 World Mayor project was the Mayor of Mexico City, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who received almost the same number of votes as Edi Rama, but whose supporters were overwhelmingly Mexico-based. Walter Veltroni, Mayor of Rome, placed third in the competition, and also enjoyed wide international support.

Full coverage of World Mayor 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2008 on www.worldmayor.com

In January 2004 City Mayors launched the internet-based project World Mayor 2004. The aim was to raise the profile of mayors worldwide, as well as to honour those who have served their communities well and who have made contributions to the well-being of cities nationally and internationally. The most outstanding mayor was to be awarded the title World Mayor 2004.

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Based on more than 400 nominations received by its readers, City Mayors prepared a short list of some 50 mayors to enter the final round of the World Mayor competition. Each reader had four votes. They could, however, only vote for one mayor from each of four world regions: Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa. All votes were counted manually to eliminate, as far as possible, multiple and organised voting. More on methodology

In addition to click-voting, readers were encouraged to comment on why they felt a particular mayor deserved to win the 2004 World Mayor title. When setting up the rules for the competition, City Mayors emphasised that the strength of argument was as important as the number of votes. By stressing the importance of well-expressed comments, City Mayors ensured that the competition participants thought about the merits of their chosen mayors.

By the end of October 2004, more than 35,000 people had cast their votes and submitted comments on the mayors they thought should win the 2004 World Mayor title. Voters from Europe accounted for approximately 41 per cent of the total number of voters. North American voters made up 35 per cent, while Asia contributed 14 per cent of people participating in the 2004 World Mayor project. Some four per cent of voters originated in Central and South American countries; the remainder came from other parts of the world, including Africa and Australia.

The top two placed mayors, Edi Rama (Tirana) and Andrés Manuel López Obrador (Mexico City), both received more than 5,500 votes. Third-placed Walter Veltroni (Rome) enjoyed the support of almost 3,000 people from within Italy, but also from North America and other European countries.

Mayors who were backed for the 2004 World Mayor title by more than 1,500 voters included Annika Billström (Stockholm), Jens Kramer Mikkelsen (Copenhagen), Sergio Chiamparino (Turin), Dora Bakoyanni (Athens), Keshav Sthapit (Kathmandu), Tadatoshi Akiba (Hiroshima), Martin O’Malley (Baltimore) and Bertrand Delanoe (Paris).

In addition to Edi Rama and Walter Veltroni, mayors with strong international appeal included Dora Bakoyanni (Athens), Bertrand Delanoe (Paris), Tadatoshi Akiba (Hiroshima), Klaus Wowereit (Berlin), Wolfgang Tiefensee (Leipzig), Gavin Newsom (San Francisco), Marta Suplici (Sao Paulo), Hazel McCallion (Mississauga) and Keshav Sthapit (Kathmandu).

Statements in support of mayors being well-argued had the advantage of making their assessment as reliable as possible. Tann vom Hove, Publisher and Editor of City Mayors, said that his organisation was looking for mayors who had the passionate support of their communities and won respect on the international stage. “When making the final decision on which mayor should be awarded the title World Mayor 2004, my colleagues and I evaluated all the statements received in support of the Mayors of Tirana and Mexico City,” Mr vom Hove explained.

Both mayors enjoyed incredible support in their communities, and both have undoubtedly changed their cities for the better and improved the conditions of their citizens since taking office. The final decision on who should be awarded the 2004 title was taken by City Mayors’ editorial board. Two members voted for Andrés Manuel López Obrador, while the other five thought Edi Rama should win the 2004 title. As the 2004 winner, Edi Rama will not be eligible to participate in the 2005 competition;  the Mayor of Mexico City, however, is entitled to become a candidate in 2005.

Edi Rama will be presented with the 2004 World Mayor award, which was designed by French artist Manuel Ferrari and made by London-based sculptor Kaspar Swankey. City Mayors Publisher, Tann vom Hove, said: “We asked Manuel Ferrari to produce a design that shows what an inspirational mayor can achieve if he builds on strong foundations.” Before contemplating the design, Manuel Ferrari learnt as much as possible about the front-runners in the World Mayor 2004 project. “I wanted to know why these mayors could arouse such strong feelings,” he said, and added that all the mayors he studied had two characteristics in common – courage and conviction.

The comments received by City Mayors in support of many of the 50 finalists indeed express that they have all inspired their communities.

Commenting on Edi Rama (Tirana, Albania)
Edi Rama is the man who changed a whole city. Now there is a new Tirana, coloured, happy, with a new and improved infrastructure and cultural life. I think Edi Rama is the man that has done the best for his country and for Tirana’s citizens. No matter if he wins or not. Most important is that he is a winner for me, and for most of the people of Tirana. Thank you, Edi, from my heart. You are surely the hero of my city.

Commenting on Andrés Manuel López Obrador (Mexico City, Mexico)
Andres Manuel is for most of us ‘the Little Sunshine of Hope’, he really is. All we need is Hope... Hope, Hope. Hope for the unattended, the single mothers, the old people, the poor people. A very intelligent woman, a professional journalist, has told us that the best virtue of Andres Manuel is his kindness. I agree with her.

Commenting on Hazel McCallion (Mississauga, Canada)
Hazel McCallion is a Mayor for the people. In discharging her responsibilities she respects all her constituent members, irrespective of economic, gender, religious, cultural or age status. Over the last 25 years she has sustained her accountability to her citizens while developing her exemplary municipality as a model for the world to see and, possibly, emulate.

Commenting on Martin O’Malley (Baltimore, USA)
I am a resident of the City of Baltimore.  Mayor O’Malley’s passion for this city is evident in his level of commitment to improving our quality of life in downtown Baltimore.  He is tough on crime, fair in judgment, and committed to making a better way for the children of this city. The end result of his leadership is sky-rocketing property values. In addition to his all-encompassing job as Mayor, he is a husband and father of four children, and plays guitar and sings in a Celtic band. He is truly amazing, and I hope to see him in the State House in the near future. (Editorial note: Martin O’Malley was overwhelmingly re-elected in the November 2004 mayoral elections.)

Commenting on Gavin Newsom (San Francisco, USA)
Mr. Newsom took on a constitutional challenge because of his concern for the rights of a segment of the human population... human rights.  His action spoke eloquently... Others just voice the words.

Commenting on William A Johnson (Rochester, USA)
Mayor Johnson is my idea of a great visionary leader, as well as a hands-on operational big city manager.  We are the third largest city in NY, and badly hurt by major layoffs from international corporations home officed here. Our Mayor deals with our problems by bringing community leaders together and by reaching out to benchmark cities around the country we can learn from.  He has enabled many inner city rehab projects, and attracted business and cultural initiatives to make Rochester a vital city where many suburbanites are returning to live.  We’re very proud of our Mayor, and he is very deserving of the World Mayor honor.

Commenting on Marta Suplicy (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
She has been trying to launch São Paulo on the international scene; she has been concentrating efforts on the poor quarters; she has been trying to recover some of the beauty of the city, especially the central part of it, trying to make it again the historical and cultural heart of São Paulo. (Editorial note: Marta Suplici failed to be re-elected in the November 2004 local elections.)

Commenting on Keshav Sthapit (Kathmandu, Nepal)
A long time visitor to Kathmandu, I two years ago got the chance to film a small documentary film about Keshav Sthapit. Apart from being greeted beyond imagination and given all the time we needed for shooting the film of him, and apart from his incredible hospitality and openness, I was amazed to see what he got done. I think I have never met a more dedicated man, and his love for the people of Kathmandu is larger than everything else in his life. Though a ‘city king’, he is what any city, democracy or not, would die for. I am in awe of Sthapit!

Commenting on Dora Bakoyanni (Athens, Greece)
Dora Bakoyanni is a woman of courage and dedication to not only the people of Athens, but of all Greece. After the assassination of her husband she chose to be a leader in the fight against terrorism in her country, rather than withdraw from public life. She also provided strong and steadfast leadership for the hosting of the Summer Olympics 2004, despite the skepticism of others around the world, and the many setbacks in the process.

Commenting on Jens Kramer Mikkelsen (Copenhagen, Denmark)
JKM has also been one of the architects behind the new subway (Metro), and the new part of the city called ‘Oerestad’, which over the years will bring us closer to Sweden. I am giving JKM my vote and, even though I do not know the other mayors, I know that JKM would be a perfect winner, as he has been one of the people behind Copenhagen for many years now, so that it would be fair to say that the way you think of Copenhagen is because of his work and attitude. I will miss his vision now he has resigned. (Editorial note: Jens Kramer Mikkelsen resigned from office in November 2004.)

Commenting on Wolfgang Tiefensee (Leipzig, Germany)
In the eighties Wolfgang Tiefensee helped to defeat communism in East Germany. His reputation as a fighter for democracy has won Leipzig international recognition, and provided the city with an opportunity to bid for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Commenting on Annika Billström (Stockholm, Sweden)
I live in Stockholm, Sweden and think that Annika Billström should win the World Mayor 2004. She is really making Stockholm a better place to live in. She and her ‘co-mayors’ in Stockholm are taking the city in a new direction. More and more people are deciding to live here. The city government are building houses for families, single people, elderly and students. It is developing the school system to a more child-based system for the future. In all the Mayor’s political decisions she considers children, the environment, the elderly and what people think. She listens to the workers in the town and the people in all parts of Stockholm.”

Commenting on Bertrand Delanoe (Paris, France)
The Mayor of Paris is an example of honesty, integrity and bravery in a country where so many politicians are corrupt and cowardly.

Commenting on Smangaliso Mkhatshwa (Pretoria, South Africa)
Committed to sustainable development, job creation and poverty eradication, he has political clout and understands the role of local government as the coal face of service delivery and, above all, he is intelligent and charismatic. His style of leadership, based on democratic centralism, has made him emerge as the best candidate from Africa due to his leadership ability, which speaks for itself locally, continentally and internationally.

Full coverage of World Mayor 2004 on www.worldmayor.com

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