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Another Expat Steps Into the Political Arena

Following on the heels of journalist Abdul Turay, another Briton, John Slade, says he has agreed to stand as a candidate in the upcoming local elections in Tallinn.

The 65-year-old pensioner, motivational speaker and retired army officer told ERR news he had received an “offer that he couldn't refuse” after being approached directly by Tallinn Mayor and Center Party Chairman Edgar Savisaar.

ERR News contacted several Center Party members including party Secretary General Priit Toobal, but none was able to confirm or comment on Slade's candidacy.

Like Turay, Slade describes his politics as being to the right of center.

“I am a conservative and I believe in conservative values that people who can do things should help people who can't,” Slade told ERR News.

He nonetheless supports the Center Party manifesto, though he has not joined the party.

“I am standing for the party that is against the [national] government. I want to be in government,” Slade said.

“They [the Center Party] haven't bought me, I am more in line with them than IRL or anyone else,” he said.

Slade has been in Estonia for 25 years, he is married with three children. He originally came to Estonia in 1987 as part of delegation from the British chamber of commerce. He will stand as a candidate in Kopli where he lives.

“I got very friendly with the mayor of Tallinn in the 80s. He was talking about glasnost and stuff.”

Slade says he participated in the Singing Revolution.

“I was on walk from Pirita when Mart Laar blew all the candles,” Slade said.

In his time in Estonia, Slade has largely been involved in charity work, bringing sports to school children in Kopli and Lasnamäe districts. Prior to retirement, Slade worked at the Estonian Business School and Tartu University as a lecturer in marketing and management. He also had a small company bringing sports teams to Estonia.

“I love working with boys and girls. Sport for me is for everyone - it is not a privilege, it is a right. They should have the same opportunities as we do in England to do lots of sports. I like working in Russian schools,” he said.

Slade said he accepted the Center Party offer because he believes it will assist him in his charity work.

"All they will do is stick me in the city government. If there is any money available for sport, I've got first crack at it,” he said.

Slade doesn't speak Estonian or Russian but says he feels a strong affiliation with the Russian-speaking community. “I have more empathy with Russian culture, Russian honesty. But it's maybe because the people I meet are older. I like that feeling of family Russians have."

The nomination marks the first time that the Center Party has put forward an expat candidate on its ticket. Abdul Turay will stand on the Social Democrat ticket after the turning down an offer from IRL's mayoral candidate, Eerik Niiles Kross. It remains to be seen whether the Reform Party has approached a Westerner as a candidate.

The Center Party is expected to do well in October 20 local elections. In the previous elections, it received 51 percent of the vote in Tallinn. The party currently holds 44 of the 79 Tallinn City Council seats, more than the other three parties combined. 

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