European mayors have played and continue to play an important role in managing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Remigijus Šimašius, Mayor of Vilnius from ALDE member party Laisvės partija, shares his perspective in the latest episode of ‘US – Unique Stories of Liberals’ video series.
“A particularity of the job of a mayor, is when your decisions, which might be seen as very theoretical, actually have very direct effect on the life of people immediately”, Šimašius says, listing decisions which relate to topics such as vaccines, healthcare, educational activities and lockdown measures.
In Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania, a range of measures were implemented while keeping in mind the perspective of open societies.
“We were able to plan for the opening for last summer, and Vilnius became an open-air café. We created a fashion week for face masks, we opened up a 100-kilometre route around Vilnius through green areas. So, it’s a very challenging time when we are able to test our Vilnius method”, Šimašius sums up.
While the role of mayors is undeniable, a key question remains: how can mayors engage more with citizens? Šimašius shares his perspective:
“We mayors do have a very, very nice job, when all these ideas we have do correspond to everyday action, not just to talk about smart cities, about involving citizens, but actually opening up a real opportunity. My task is to show our good experience, our good practices, and some of this could be even copy-pasted or inspired by other European capital cities or other cities.”
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