John So, Lord Mayor of Melbourne and winner of the 2006 World Mayor Award




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John So, Lord Mayor of Melbourne
wins the 2006 World Mayor Award

By Tann vom Hove, Editor

John So, Lord Mayor of Melbourne, has been elected World Mayor 2006. Runner up in the 2006 World Mayor contest is Job Cohen, Mayor of Amsterdam. In third place is Harrisburg’s long-serving mayor Stephen Reed, while Jejomar Binay, Mayor of Makati City, ranks fourth. Michel Thiollière, Mayor of St Etienne, completes the top five. John So will be presented with the World Mayor Award early in 2007. Previous winners are, in 2004, Edi Rama, Mayor of Tirana and now also leader of Albania's socialist party, and in 2005, Dora Bakoyannis, Mayor of Athens and now Greek foreign minister.

| The Project | Methodology | The top ten mayors of World Mayor 2006 |

The Project
World Mayor, an annual project organised by City Mayors, aims to raise the profile of mayors worldwide as well as to honour those who have made long-lasting contributions to their communities and are committed to the well-being of cities nationally and internationally. In 2004, Edi Rama won the Award for his achievements in turning the drab and neglected post-communist capital of Albania into a thriving western European city, before being chosen as leader of its Socialist Party. As mayor, Dora Bakoyannis contributed substantially to the success of the Athens Olympics and ensured that the Games would be of long-lasting benefit to the Greek capital. After receiving the 2005 World Mayor Award, she was appointed Greek foreign minister.

John So, the winner of World Mayor 2006, is Melbourne’s first directly elected Lord Mayor. Born in Hong Kong, he is an example of the ‘Australian dream’. Now in his second term as mayor, John So’s passion for his city, his enduring enthusiasm for his job, humanity and self-effacing manner have made him the most popular politician among younger Australians.

Methodology
Between June and the end of October 2006, more than 103,000 people from across the world voted for and commented on their favourite mayors in the internet-based World Mayor contest. With a share of 26 per cent of the total, Europe contributed the largest number of votes. The share of votes from North America amounted to 24 per cent, with 12 per cent of the votes coming from Central and South American cities. The share of the vote from Africa increased from two per cent in 2005 to five per cent in 2006. Voters from Asian countries accounted for 18 per cent, while, largely due to the popularity of Melbourne Mayor John So, votes from Australasia made up 15 per cent of the total count. In 2005, only five per cent of the total vote came from that region.

In addition to click voting, participants in World Mayor 2006 were encouraged to provide persuasive statements of why they felt their chosen mayor should win the 2006 Award. When setting up the rules for the competition, City Mayors, the organisers, emphasised that the strength of argument was as important as the number of votes. Tann vom Hove, Editor and Publisher of City Mayors, said that by stressing the importance of well-argued comments, it was ensured that the competition participants thought about the merits of their chosen mayors. He explained that he and his editorial colleagues were looking for mayors who had the passionate support of their communities and won respect on the national and international stage. “Throughout the contest we published a selection of the most illuminating comments to allow people to compare the qualities of their own mayors with those of city leaders from across the world,” vom Hove added. More on methodology

The 2006 top ten mayors
All mayors in the top ten of World Mayor 2006 received more than 2,500 votes, with those ranked from one to five all collecting in excess of 6,000 votes each. Melbourne Mayor John So, the 2006 winner, was supported by more than 16,000 individual voters, while Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen, the runner up, received 11,000 votes. Third-placed Stephen Reed, Mayor of Harrisburg, was supported by more than 7,000 voters.

The top 10 mayors of World Mayor 2006
Rank Mayor City Country
1 John So Melbourne Australia
2 Job Cohen Amsterdam Netherlands
3 Stephen Reed Harrisburg USA
4 Jejomar Binay Makati City Philippines
5 Michel Thiollière St Etienne France
6 Paul Wengert Augsburg Germany
7 Francisco Cabrera Santos Valencia Venezuela
8 Dubravka Suica Dubrovnik Croatia
9 John Hickenlooper Denver USA
10 Patrick Ramiaramanana Antananarivo Madagascar

In 10th place:
Patrick Ramiaramanana, Mayor of Antananarivo, Madagascar
For the first time, the World Mayor top ten includes a city leader from Africa. Patrick Ramiaramanana, Mayor of Antananarivo, also a finalist in 2005, is one of Africa’s most respected mayors. He has also been honoured internationally and is admired by his peers from around the world. One commentator says: “In spite of the poverty in Madagascar, Patrick Ramiaramanana has changed the city to makes visitors and poor citizen believe that it is possible to keep the city attractive, clean, with well maintained infrastructure with a minimum of money. Thus, beauty, good management and security do not always need to cost huge amounts of money. The Mayor has succeeded thanks to his personal skills, courage and management style.” Profile | Comments

In 9th place:
John Hickenlooper, Mayor of Denver, USA
John Hickenlooper, Mayor of Denver (USA), was an early signatory to the Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, endorsed in June 2005 by the US Conference of Mayors, which committed signatories to meet or beat Kyoto Protocol targets in their own communities and to press state and federal governments to act similarly. In an interview with City Mayors, he said in the US our federal government had shown no inclination to address this issue. “As cities we are going to conform to the Kyoto protocol. Instead of top down in terms of our climate we perhaps need to tackle it from the bottom up,” he added. A supporter describes Mayor Hickenlooper as having “done wonders for lifting Denver's reputation on a national and international level. He has brought an unprecedented amount of new business to the city, as well as tourists, while simultaneously lifting cultural awareness. His continued dedication to excellence (and down-to-earth, approachable personality) has been invaluable to the city of Denver.” Profile | Comments

In 8th place:
Dubravka Suica, Mayor of Dubrovnik, Croatia
While in 2005, the World Mayor top 10 included three women, with both the winner and runner up being female mayors, there is however only one woman mayor among the top ten city leaders of 2006. Dubravka Suica, Mayor of Dubrovnik (Croatia), is credited with restoring her city to one of the world’s premier tourist destinations after the devastating Balkan war in the 1990s. In 2005, she was named Croatia’s Mayor of the Year in recognition of improvements in the city’s tourism industry. But Mayor Suica is also aware that her city cannot sustain mass tourism: “Today, the infrastructure of a city which was designed for 45,000 residents, supports an additional 25,000 visitors per day at the peak of the tourist season. The limits of sustainability have been reached, and we must solve this problem as soon as possible. We are aware that our future lies, to a great extent, in the development of sustainable cultural tourism, and we are continually working on rebuilding and protecting the cultural heritage and monuments for which Dubrovnik is renowned not only in Croatia but around the world.” A supporter of the Mayor made the following point: “I wholeheartedly support Mrs Dubravka Suica's nomination for World Mayor 2006. As a Bureau member of the European Association of Historic Towns and Regions she has proven that not only is she an effective Mayor, having presided over the successful regeneration of war-torn Dubrovnik, but that she is a leader of vision committed to sustainable tourism at both a European and world level.” Profile | Comments | Essay

In 7th place:
Francisco Cabrera Santos, Mayor of Valencia, Venezuela
Francisco Cabrera Santos, Mayor of Valencia is South America’s representative in the 2006 World Mayor top ten. He has been twice elected by popular ballot. With his particular style of ‘little talk and more action’, the Mayor - better known as ‘Paco Cabrera’ - has consolidated his regional leadership with promising and successful projects. During his term in office over the past years he has achieved national and international recognition for rejuvenating important areas of the city. His vision of realising a modern metropolis, without losing its sense of vitality and tradition, led to his initiating the ‘Valencia 2020’ project for developing and revitalising the city. One supporter of the Mayor said: “The Mayor brought us peace, pride, good times, great buildings and a love for our city.” Profile | Comments

In 6th place:
Paul Wengert, Mayor of Augsburg, Germany
Paul Wengert, Social Democrat Mayor of Augsburg (Germany), is one of four European mayors ranked among the top ten mayors in World Mayor 2006. Since taking office in 2002, the Mayor’s guiding principle has been not to ignore his fellow-citizens when developing the city. In an interview with City Mayors he said the city belonged to the citizens and for that reason, they had to be included in the development of their immediate living space. Internationally, the Mayor has been praised for his initiative to help the victims of the 2005 tsunami in South East Asia. The Mayor stressed the importance of citizens are taking responsibility for other citizens, regardless of whether they are in Augsburg or elsewhere in the world. One Augsburger described the Mayor as follows: “Augsburg is a city with many different cultures and has no problems. Mr Wengert stands for this tolerance. He is also leading the city into a successful future… We need more politicians like Mr Wengert.” Profile | Comments

In 5th place:
Michel Thiollière, Mayor of St Etienne, France
After becoming Mayor of St Etienne and President of its Urban Community (a federation that includes 43 districts and almost 400,000 inhabitants) Michel Thiollière embarked on a major urban renewal project, which would profoundly change the face of the city. The city has been marked by the upheavals caused by 200 years of industrial revolution. It has also suffered the effects of crises in the mining and metalworking industries. Michel Thiollière has a unique style, displaying a high degree of determination and openness, whether concerning people, other French regions or the international scene. He daily demonstrates his ability to unite people around an idea, regardless of their political viewpoints. His commitment to innovation and creativity has also attracted some of the greatest names in contemporary architecture, including Fumihiko Maki (now working on a vast urban renewal project in the town centre) and Sir Norman Foster (currently designing the future Zenith entertainment venue). One of the Mayor’s supporters said that Michel Thiollière had made tremendous changes in St Etienne. “He has had the courage and the right vision for the future. It is not always easy to dare changing a town, but he dedicated many years of his life to this cause and now St Etienne offers a new face, a quiet and nice one. It is a pleasure to stroll along the streets or to have a coffee near its numerous squares. He also highlighted the cultural side of St Etienne, using its past economical and industrial power as an asset for nowadays. He mixed the past and the present in a very talented way.” Profile | Comments | Interview |

In 4th place:
Jejomar C Binay, Mayor of Makati City, Philippines
Representing the Philippines financial centre, Jejomar C Binay the Mayor of Makati City is determined that the poor should not lose out to business. In an interview with City Mayors he said a mayor must be the mayor for all residents, meaning the rich, the middle class and the poor. “But when it comes to allocating local government resources, he must do so on the basis of need, guided by his social obligation to his constituents. Government must place priority on addressing the concerns of the economically disadvantaged. Makati’s rich and the middle classes can look after themselves. It is the poor who depend on government and they expect government to see to their wellbeing.” Since becoming Mayor in 1986, Jejomar Binay has paid special attention to education. One of his supporters wrote: “One of Mayor Binay’s top priorities is education. What the national government cannot provide in education, Mayor Binay augments. Modern school buildings, free textbooks, workbooks, t-shirts, school materials and free lunch are all provided.” Another commentator remarked: “For us, the youth of today, Mayor Binay is an inspiration and a good example of a leader who has unselfishly served the people of Makati.” Profile | Comments | Essay

In 3rd place:
Stephen Reed, Mayor Harrisburg, USA
Stephen Reed has been mayor of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for 24 years. The longest serving mayor in the state, Mayor Reed, far from coasting, has initiated several key projects in the city since the millennium. In 2000 the Pennsylvania state legislature asked him to take on the failing school district in the city. It was the first time a mayor had taken on the role in the state. In the last five years, graduation rates are up 71 per cent, numbers continuing to higher education are up 263 per cent. In 1981, aged 32, Stephen Reed contested Harrisburg’s mayoralty. Like many eastern cities the city has a constitution, which allows mayors dominant influence with plenty of opportunity to succeed or fail. Winning the contest, he took up office in January 1982. Since that success, Reed has won six consecutive elections for his job. In five of those campaigns he was backed by both of the main political parties. One citizen from Harrisburg wrote: “Stephen Reed has committed his very soul to public service and is a tireless and positive force for change and improvement. Over the years, he has taken our tired, grey city and filled it with life and colour and he always gives the impression that he has only just begun. He is a leader and wastes no time in party politics.” Profile | Comments | Interview |

In 2nd place:
Job Cohen, Mayor of Amsterdam, Netherlands
Job Cohen, Mayor of Amsterdam, boasts an enviable record in national and city politics, academia and broadcasting, with plaudits from a range of opinion makers for his inclusive approach to politics and city life. In 2005, Cohen was named one of Time magazine’s ‘European Heroes’ for his stand on the notorious murder of film-maker Theo van Gogh in an Amsterdam street in November 2004. Cohen led the city’s people in street protests, calling for unity and tolerance. Since the murder, which Cohen himself was targeted by the assassin, the mayor has sought to bring together the capital’s immigrant communities to facilitate dialogue against extremism, both by and directed at Muslim immigrants, in order to maintain its famous reputation for tolerance and liberal attitudes. In an essay, which opens with lines from Jacque Brel’s ‘In the port of Amsterdam’, Mayor Cohen writes: “Amsterdam, a modern city with all the problems, opportunities and, above all, its special aspects, is one of the smallest ‘world cities’. Some 170 nationalities make up its 750,000 inhabitants.” One commentator agreed wholeheartedly: “In a city like Amsterdam, with citizens from over 170 national backgrounds and an equally diverse ethnic population, the importance of understanding ethnic relations and their sensitivities cannot be overestimated. Among many Amsterdam people, there have been serious suggestions for Mr Cohen to take up the candidacy for Prime Minister. I'm convinced that Mr Cohen's role as a mayor will be remembered for a very long time after he completes his term, in a positive way. It would be very good if he became the winner of World Mayor 2006, because it would mean a boost to those who work for harmony and peace - which in the current trends are not widely appreciated by the popular media.” Profile | Comments | Essay | Interview |

In 1st place:
John So, Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne’s longest serving and first elected Lord Mayor John So can be viewed as a positive symbol of diversity in Australian public life. Elected to a second term in 2004, the affection shown for Mayor So in the Victoria state capital has even manifested itself in a tribute record, possibly the first city leader to enjoy ‘cult status’. So is widely accredited with the successful staging of the 2006 Commonwealth Games and his assiduous efforts to promote the city abroad. The Mayor is also held up as an immigrant success story. Not many mayors can claim to have had a record made in their honour or a t-shirt proclaiming their name across residents’ chests (the ‘John So – he’s my bro’ garment, which was also the record’s title). As a mayor of Asian heritage in the strongly diverse city, Mayor So champions links with other Asian cities, emphasising sister city relations with Osaka, Japan and Tianjin, China and working within the Business Partner City Network of 12 global cities. Melbourne is Australia’s second largest city and describes itself as the nation’s cultural capital, though its prominence as a financial centre is undisputable. Since becoming Mayor, one of John So’s aims has been to engage with young people and to make sure they know they are a vital part of Melbourne society. He has succeeded. One young Melbournian wrote: “John So has captured the imagination of the people of his city. He has especially done so with young people. Where else in the world do people under 25 cheer and stamp and shout out the name of the mayor?” Profile | Comments | Essay | Interview |


Job Cohen, Mayor of Amsterdam and runner up in World Mayor 2006




AFRICA
• Mayor of Antananarivo, Madagascar
• Mayor of Johannesburg, South Africa
• Mayor of Maputo, Mozambique
• Mayor of Tunis, Tunisia

NORTH AMERICA
• Mayor of Calgary, Canada
• Mayor of London, Canada
• Mayor of Toronto, Canada
• Mayor of Denver, USA
• Mayor of Harrisburg, USA
• Mayor of Houston, USA
• Mayor of New Orleans, USA
• Mayor of New York City, USA
• Mayor of Portland, USA
• Mayor of Seattle, USA

SOUTH AMERICA
• Mayor of Belo Horizonte, Brazil
• Mayor of Curitiba, Brazil
• Mayor of Bogota, Colombia
• Mayor of Quito, Ecuador
• Mayor of San José de Mayo, Uruguay
• Mayor of Valencia, Venezuela

ASIA
• Mayor of Phnom Penh, Cambodia
• Mayor of Chengdu, China
• Mayor of Shanghai, China
• Mayor of Bangalore, India
• Mayor of Jaipur, India
• Mayor of Rishon-LeZion, Israel
• Mayor of Tokyo, Japan
• Mayor of Nablus, Palestine
• Mayor of Angeles City, Philippines
• Mayor of Makati City, Philippines
• Mayor of Taipei, Taiwan
• Mayor of Istanbul, Turkey

AUSTRALASIA
• Mayor of Melbourne, Australia
• Mayor of Wellington, New Zealand

EUROPE
• Mayor of Sofia, Bulgaria
• Mayor of Dubrovnik, Croatia
• Mayor of Mulhouse, France
• Mayor of St Etienne, France
• Mayor of Augsburg, Germany
• Mayor of Bonn, Germany
• Mayor of Potsdam, Germany
• Mayor of Bologna, Italy
• Mayor of Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
• Mayor of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
• Mayor of Porto, Portugal
• Mayor of Oradea, Romania
• Mayor of Zaragoza, Spain
• Mayor of Valencia, Spain
• Mayor of Zurich, Switzerland
• Mayor of Middlesbrough, UK