Mechelen mayor in the running for World Mayor Prize

Summary

Bart Somers, the liberal mayor of Mechelen, has been nominated for the World Mayor Prize, an international competition highlighting the achievements of the world’s best mayors

‘Feet firmly on the ground’

Bart Somers, one-time Flemish minister-president and now mayor of Mechelen, has made the shortlist of the World Mayor Prize. The 15 mayors on the list are considered the best mayors in the world.

The biennial prize is award by the City Mayors Foundation, an international organisation that promotes and facilitates open communication and good practices between city governments.

“It’s obviously great news, and it’s always better to be on a positive list than a negative, but my feet are planted firmly on the ground,” Somers (Open VLD) told VRT. “It’s true, we have our own way of doing things in Mechelen, and we often get inquiries from abroad.”

The nominations are based partly on a poll and partly on a jury’s determination of certain criteria, such as leadership, vision, environmental awareness, security and economic policy. This year special attention is being paid to the cities’ reception of refugees and the integration of migrants, their “compassion for people who have travelled great distances to find safety”.

Also on the shortlist is Ayman Hallaq, the mayor of the beleaguered Syrian city of Aleppo. Most of the list is made up of European mayors, including Barcelona’s Ada Colau and Pavel Adamowicz of Gdansk, Poland.

“Mechelen has problems and difficulties like all cities, but we manage to get people to live together in diversity,” said Somers (pictured).

Daniël Termont, mayor of Ghent, came in second place in the 2014 World Mayor Prize. This year’s result will be announced in February.

Photo courtesy bartsomers.be

NOTE: This article was adapted on 1 February to reflect the change of the announcement of the winner of the prize from January to February