Narva Mayor Katri Raik (SDE) admitted that she is faced with a difficult choice, in which she has to decide whether to run for election to the Riigikogu next March or continue serving as mayor of Estonia's northeastern border city.
"Of course the leadership of the Social Democratic Party (SDE) has invited me to run," Raik told ERR on Thursday. "But I don't know yet whether I'll run, because Narva's facing so many challenges that I haven't had the chance to even think about it. And it's also clear that I'll have to decide then whether I help Narva or I campaign for election."
She explained that the Narva city government is currently immersed in organizing the predominantly Russian-speaking city's transition to Estonian-language education and seeking rentals for new teachers arriving in town. Also being organized is the renovation of buildings in order to better insulate them, and the city is trying to ensure that as many investments as possible reach Narva in the implementation of the EU's Just Transition Fund (JTF).
"Likewise crucial is a structural reform of the city government," the mayor highlighted. "To this day, we have three accountants, but no personnel director and no internal audit. Right now, Narva needs five years' of development in the span of one in order to make up for neglected development opportunities. That's what I and my team are trying to do."
She also noted that for Narva residents, the mayor is looked to as a representative of the state as well.
"Narva residents have been repeatedly deceived as it is, and I wouldn't want to do that myself now if I were to join the Riigikogu," Raik said. "I was given such a strong mandate in Narva that I should stay on in the city based on that alone. I can't leave my people behind."
On the other hand, Raik acknowledged that as the politician to earn the most votes in Narva in the most recent local elections, she would have obligations before the SDE.
"If I don't run and SDE doesn't exceed the election threshold [of 5 percent], that would remain on my conscience, and I don't want that either," she admitted.
Editor: Aili Vahtla