Tallinn's Mustamäe district elder and Estonia's second most popular candidate in the local government elections Lauri Laats collected close to 8,500 votes at the elections and believes the key to his success is solving issues at a micro level. But he did put forth €30,000 from his own pocket to fund a campaign.
"My style is to involve as many people as possible, I ask people, talk to them, move around a lot - it is leadership at a micro level," Laats told ERR's webcast "Otse uudistemajast" on Wednesday.
"I solve micro level issues in my competence. I am also honest and say if I cannot help someone or solve an issue," the Center Party member said.
Mustamäe constructions under strict watch
The Mustamäe district elder said the district has new life with a stronger community of residents. "We have achieved this sense of a smaller district," he said.
"The question is not only concrete, but also involvement. I see people feeling like a part of their community each day, I see a community in Mustamäe," Laats said.
Speaking of developments and construction in his district, Laats said there should be no new buildings in Vana-Mustamäe unless it has been discussed with the local residents. He noted that the old micro-district management ABC-centers should be implemented somehow.
Laats also spoke about wanting a breakthrough from Mustamäe tee and Sõpruse puiestee to downtown Tallinn in order to connect public transportation to the city center. This would motivate people to use public transportation instead of cars. This could be supplemented by cycle paths and pedestrian walkways, the district elder added.
Laats said that discussions should be held about possibly moving some of the 18 kindergartens in Mustamäe closer to new residential areas.
Does not rule out moving to another position
Responding to a question from show host Aleksander Krjukov about his career in politics, Laats did not rule out moving to another position, but also noted how he still decided to remain as district elder instead of going to the Riigikogu.
"I also prefer to stay in the district now because there are opportunities to keep developing, but if the team decides I am needed elsewhere, such as city government or city council, I am prepared to go. I am a team player," Laats said.
He added that he would not rule out a possible ministerial position. "If I have the support for it, I would not rule it out. But these questions are not on the table currently," Laats said.
He said his strengths are the economy and social issues.
A campaign worth €30,000
Laats said that Center Party's results at the local government elections last week were not ideal, but an analysis will be conducted ahead of the Riigikogu elections in 2023.
He admitted that his own campaign ended up costing some €30,000, but all of it was from his own pocket. "I am not just a politician. I was in entrepreneurship before entering politics and I am still a passive owner. I did not have to take out a loan," the district elder said.
Social Democrats cannot find their footing
Laats, a member of the Social Democratic Party (SDE) in 2005-2015 commented on the party's situation and said the Social Democrats have a difficult time finding themselves.
"They are in the middle of a strong period of stagnation. Their main problem is that they have not found themselves, their voters nor their political platform - who they represent and what they want to do," Laats said.
He also noted that the party does not have a strong leader to represent their message.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste