Tampere, a good home for everyone, not for a few

Speech at the announcement of the mayoral candidacy 10.12.2020

I want to thank the Left Alliance for their trust. It would be a great honor to serve as the mayor of my hometown. What is more important than the mayor, however, is the politics practiced by the council and council groups. In the next spring’s municipal election, me and 99 other candidates from the Left Alliance participate in the election. In the next council term, political work is done together with other parties and 67 city councillors and members of local authority committees.

During my career, I have worked with people who are in the most vulnerable position, and I wish to bring this experience to the highest level of policy-making in Tampere. My work and experience in substance abuse services, child protection, and eldercare, make me want to strive for building an even better Tampere. I want to be there to build Tampere on the terms of everyone, not just a few.

Dear people of Tampere,

The Left Alliance of Tampere sees Tampere of the future as a lively city that invests in education, quality and accessibility of services, and also as a city that does its part to fight climate change.
It is no mystery what a successful and happy city is like. Safe and homely living environment, good public services, work and study opportunities. Possibilities to create and enjoy art and vibrant urban culture. Possibilities to enjoy nature. Tampere has it all. These are things that we in the Left Alliance want to cherish.

Tampere is unique. Tampere is the most desirable destination in Finland for a good reason. Tampere also interests Hollywood’s movie makers. What makes Tampere so interesting? Vital and diverse city life. The history of the red bricks, lake sceneries, and, for some, the most beautiful dialect in the world. Safety, courage to build something new, and a desire to evolve.
The future is uncertain due to the corona pandemic, but that cannot prevent a city from making progress, and now, more than ever, we need investments into people’s well-being. The Left Alliance wants to play its part in this development.

The city of Tampere does not lack the courage to get involved in big projects, such as building trams. Tampere is, however, bigger than its massive projects. The city of Tampere must be bolder to develop the city also outside of the city center. Hervanta, Tesoma, Multisilta, Tasanne, and other neighborhoods are equally parts of Tampere, and they should be developed together with the residents. At its worst, regional differentiation can be a threat. We cannot let this happen. We all have the right to a safe and homely living environment. We must ensure that there is affordable housing and suitable homes for all kinds of people and families in Tampere. In the future, there will be no one without a home in Tampere.

Tampere must be a pioneer and a leader in environmental and climate policy-making. Tampere must lead by example not only by striving for carbon neutrality, but also by protecting the nature we love and its diversity. Building new cycle paths, minimizing food waste, supporting renewable energy, circular economy, urban gardens, and recycling are all environmental acts. Raising a new, more environmentally wise generation is a part of this work. Work, that belongs to all of us. The city of Tampere must also support local companies and communities in their environmental work. If and when we want to be the first carbon neutral city in Finland, we all need to do more and we need to do it wiser.

Dear people of Tampere,

We, the people of Tampere, are a diverse group of people with a wide range of needs and aspirations. We should all have a chance to be involved in developing the city and influencing the affairs of the city. A safe city consists of equality and participation. We cannot afford to leave anyone outside of our society.
In my work in child protection, as well as in substance abuse services, I have seen the other side of Tampere. Inequality, poverty, incompetence. Tampere is more than its advertising videos. So that everyone can have equal opportunities and that everyone gets to shine, we need a safe city, where we believe in people and support them when times are hard. This is especially important when it comes to children and young people. A safe city creates the conditions for a safe life.

Today, as many as a third of young people experience mental health problems at some point. However, waiting to access services is long. Tampere must answer to this need for help fast, because these can be questions of life and death. The resources of the services must be in good condition so that we can get rid of the long waiting times.
However, placing a band-aid on a bleeding wound alone will not help, but we must address the root causes that burden people’s mental health, because those are not individual but communal problems. Incompetence, loneliness, uncertainty of the future, performance anxiety, and troubles in the family are all common problems that can only be solved together. We have to create a city where anyone can trust that they get help when they need it and that they can succeed in life as they are. That is why we need to invest in services that prevent problems from escalating.

Well-functioning healthcare and social welfare services must be a matter of honor in Tampere. Before healthcare and social welfare services move to the provinces after the social welfare and health care reform, we must offer services that are of high quality, timely and accessible to all residents of Tampere. The lower the threshold and the faster we can provide help, there is less human suffering and less costs from the most demanding services. Even after the social welfare and health care reform, Tampere must do its utmost that all the services remain of high quality and accessible. We should also remember that good healthcare and social welfare services are a significant attraction factor to companies as well as to competent workforce that advance the creation of new jobs and better employment.

Nothing, however, supports a person in the stormy seas of life than if one has had a safe childhood. From the point of view of the best interest of children, investing in early childhood education and care is of primary importance. To ensure high-class early childhood education and care, we need competent, professional and permanent staff, small group sizes, safe and excellent care together with a research-based pedagogical approach. The children of Tampere deserve best ja that is what we want to offer them.
The Finnish comprehensive school system has shown its strengths but learning outcomes have started to diverge. The educational background of the parents together with regional and gender differences are increasingly affecting learning. We know how to stop the growing inequality in schools: by reducing class sizes, investing in suburban schools, high-class learning materials and facilities as well as in staff adequacy and well-being.

Schools need to be safe for both students and teachers. We cannot accept racism, homophobia or transphobia, or any kind of discrimination or bullying in our schools. No child or young person should ever be afraid to go to school. Student welfare services in schools must be strengthened and no cuts can be made to education or education and cultural services. In the fight against bullying the example of us adults is also needed. How do we talk to each other, do we respect one another regardless of disagreement, or is the way we talk outrageous?

The Left Alliance wants to reduce poverty and inequality. We know that poverty is very difficult for the whole family, and it exposes children to stress, anxiety and bullying. Poverty in families must be fought in every possible way, for example, by financially supporting children’s free time activities, and by developing free leisure time and holiday activities for children and young people. By doing so, we can also enable the inclusion of children from low-income families.

Dear people of Tampere

The disadvantages in eldercare are a serious human rights problem and a disgrace to the Finnish welfare state. Everyone must be able to trust that they will be taken care of when they no longer can do so by themselves. We need to ensure that older people have high-class, diverse services tailored to their individual needs. We must reserve adequate resources for arranging service housing and 24-hour care. The city of Tampere must use more resources to control the quality of care services. Safe living at home must be made possible by professionals and comprehensive home care. It doesn’t make sense for dozens of different people visiting someone at home running various tasks, but we must return to more comprehensive home care.

Humane and good elderly care is entirely possible. I have worked in elder care services both in Tampere and elsewhere. I also did my internship in Canada in a nursing home where I got to be a part of everyday life of Finnish immigrants. I have seen and been able to implement high quality elderly care, where every old person can be met with a respectful and good care and interaction. It is not a utopia, it is possible. Everyone has the right to a good life, regardless of age.

Dear people of Tampere,

Libraries, sports venues and museums are the cornerstones of education and cultural services that create equality in the city. Tampere offers countless opportunities to express and develop oneself within sports and culture. This is not self-evident. Without skilled professionals, free or affordable facilities, financial support and cooperation with organizations, we do not have a network of operators. We must hold on to this and develop it even better. Tampere likes to call itself a theater city. We will continue to do so, and also support our grassroots-level cultural actors.

Dear people of Tampere,

There are more and more of us in Tampere. An increase in the number of inhabitants means an increasing need for services. Tampere is rich in diverse wealth. We can offer high quality education, early childhood education and care, and healthcare and social welfare services. Our city is decorated with beautiful buildings and various events. You can live a long and good life in Tampere. This is the kind of wealth the Left Alliance wants to cherish. This wealth and the stability of our society will help us get through the corona crisis.

Good financial management and employment management create the basis for services in Tampere. Because of that, the city’s economy must be managed responsibly and in the long term. Economic cycles do not follow a calendar, pandemics or council terms, so the economy should be viewed also in longer terms. The surplus of good years must be enough to invest in well-being and building the future, even in weak years. Tampere must strive to increase its income by investing even more in managing employment, and by improving the operating conditions for companies of various sizes and the self-employed. The city’s procurement policy must also enable small and local players to succeed in tenders. Tampere also needs to continue the necessary investments, such as repairing and building kindergartens and schools.

Pressure to save is often presented to the economy. Cutting and streamlining costs should be done where it brings the least human harm. Streamlining should be done in a way that actually saves and enhances efficiency, rather than moving problems from place to place. The cuts from primary health services put pressure on specialised healthcare, and does not make overall economic sense. We in the Left Alliance, cannot accept the continuous sub-budgeting of primary services. In Tampere, for example, child protection expenses are not realistically budgeted, even though it is known that the demand and expenses are growing year by year. Expenditure overruns can be controlled if the city itself provides more child protection’s institutional services. It should be a priority to make every effort to prevent the need for child protection.

Dear people of Tampere,

Municipal elections are held next spring. The new city council will start its work in June, and will elect the mayor from among its members. The mayor is elected from the party that wins the election. In the name of openness, it is fair that the citizens know who the party has named as their mayor if they win the election.

We in the Left Alliance want to talk about politics, not only about the mayor. It is important for us to ensure high quality public services and excellent school paths for everyone. We want to invest in a safe living environment and environmental and climate policy-making.

It would be a great honor to serve as the mayor of Tampere. Because of the pandemic, we shall meet each other in online events or social media, or by calling. Hopefully, in the springtime, we can meet face to face. I want to hear your views on how to make Tampere a better place for everyone, not for a few. Thank you.

Vastaa

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