My main themes for the municipal elections in Helsinki in 2012 are:
- A better Helsinki:The best thing a city can do to improve the quality of life of its citizens is to provide high-quality public services. Unfortunately, in many cases inefficiency causes a major bottleneck to improving their quality. Improving the efficiency of public organizations could have a dramatic impact on the quality of public services offered, and on the overall quality of life in Helsinki. A very good way of improving efficiency would be to introduce vouchers for a number of public services, which would allow citizens to choose where they want to purchase the services. The city has a role in ensuring that everyone can afford public services, but it doesn’t need to play a role in actually providing those services.
- A cleaner Helsinki: internationally speaking, Helsinki is a pretty clean city to live in. But there are still issues with air quality and unnecessary noise, mostly because of the amount of cars on city streets. Helsinki has a very good and potentially excellent public transport system which, together with the relatively small size of the city, would make it possible to reduce the number of cars significantly. The clearest way of doing this would be through congestion charging, which would make it more expensive to travel by personal car especially during rush hours. The revenue generated could then be invested in further improving the public transport system.
- A larger Helsinki: It seems quaint to call a city the size of Helsinki a ”metropolis”, as some people in Finland do. However, if Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa were combined into a single entity, and much taller buildings than currently exist were constructed in new city areas (like in Central Pasila, or the areas freed from harbor operations), the title could start to sound more realistic. Having such a large urban area, with a significant foreign population, would be of great benefit to its citizens, to Finland as a whole and indeed the environment.