Center appoints Riisalu as deputy mayor

Aivar Riisalu.

PHOTO: Margus Ansu

The Center Party confirmed Tallinn deputy mayor candidates yesterday. Surprisingly, they include recent IRL Tartu mayoral candidate Aivar Riisalu who left the party yesterday.

The Tallinn districts’ council of the Center Party approved Eha Võrk, Kalle Klandorf, Andrei Novikov, Vadim Belobrovtsev, Tõnis Mölder, and Aivar Riisalu as deputy mayor candidates for the capital following a proposal by party Chairman Jüri Ratas yesterday. The capital’s seventh deputy mayor will be Estonian Green Party Chairman Züleyxa Izmailova.

Ratas said that the new city government will be formed of capable people who strike a good balance between experience and new ideas. “These people will work with dedication every day to improve the environment and lives of citizens of all Tallinn districts,” the PM said.

Eha Võrk and Kalle Klandorf have 16 years of city administration experience between them. “Both have managed their areas successfully and professionally in that time,” Ratas said.

Concerning Belobrovtsev and Mölder, Ratas said that as recent district mayors they can introduce a regional dimension to administration. MP Andrei Novikov also has experience in city administration.

Ratas said that while Aivar Riisalu last held a position in Tallinn years ago, he is sure to contribute know-how from other walks of life and a fresh perspective as a successful businessman, politician, member of the Defense League, and musician.

Riisalu left IRL yesterday to take up the position of Tallinn deputy mayor in charge of enterprise and innovation, IRL confirmed just before the candidates were officially approved.

IRL Secretary General Priit Sibul said that Riisalu notified the party of Center’s proposal in due diligence. Aivar’s departure was discussed beforehand. We talked about the situation; I’m sure taking office as deputy mayor is a fitting challenge for him,” Sibul said.

Riisalu, who was elected into the Tartu city council with 824 votes, will resign and be replaced with Jaak Nigul. Nigul is an entrepreneur and member of the board of Tarmeko KV OÜ. Riisalu will also resign from the board of IRL.

The politician said in March that he is very disappointed in IRL and does not rule out returning to the fold of the Center Party. “I dare say it is possible I never should have left [Center],” Riisalu told TV3 news program “Seitsmesed uudised” at the time.

Riisalu belonged to the Center Party in 1996-2014. Before leaving the party and joining IRL, Riisalu explained that Center has a deep ideological problem. Riisalu gave feedback from voters as the reason for leaving Center: voters could no longer vote for him in good conscience as they do not share the Center Party’s values, Riisalu told Lääne Elu.

Another surprise was delivered last week when IRL’s candidate Mart Luik was elected the second deputy chairman of the Tallinn city council. While it had been agreed the position would go to opposition leader the Reform Party, IRL nominated Luik, and he was elected with 43 votes. Because the ballot was secret, it is only possible to speculate where the votes came from. Reform is suggesting support from the ruling Center Party.