Boyan Tomov, Kmet na godinata, Source: Krasimir Svrakov /

Boyan Tomov: We are observing a record-high interest in the 'Mayor of the Year' 2020 Awards

Boyan Tomov: We are observing a record-high interest in the 'Mayor of the Year' 2020 Awards

Boyan Tomov from about the forthcoming "Mayor of the Year" awards in Bulgaria

We talk to Boyan Tomov, founder of, about the "Mayor of the Year" Competition, which will culminate on 30 October. The initiative was launched in Bulgaria in 2013. Since then, every year the best mayors in the country are nominated through a national online poll.

The competition, organized by the Portal of the Bulgarian municipalities and the free newspaper, focuses on the work of all 265 municipalities in the country, counting over 120 000 employees.

Mr. Tomov, looking forward to the eighth edition of the "Mayor of the Year" competition which will honour the most approved mayors in Bulgaria - what should we expect?

For the eighth consecutive year, the mayors of all municipalities in Bulgaria participate in the national competition, competing in eight categories - Mayor of Citizens, Smart City, Demographic Policy and In Vitro Programs, Sports and Youth Policies, Urban Environment, Investments in Educational Infrastructure, Social measures during the epidemic and Mayor of the Year, about the overall work of the local administrations in 2020.

There are three winners in each category - for small, medium and large municipality, divided according to their populations. Just like elections, the winners are determined by the citizens themselves through online voting.

As every year, the competition will be honoured not only by the presence of municipal representatives, but also by a number of European- and national-level politicians and by representatives from leading Bulgarian and international companies. This, in itself, is a proof of the prestige that the competition has gained over the years.

This year, already in the first few days we registered a record increase in the number of votes cast, compared to previous editions of the competition. This has positively surprised us as organizers.

What I can say for sure is that the competition is going to be extremely contested. Voting will continue literally until the day before the ceremony, which will allow the maximum number of citizens to vote, and local administrations will feel the heat until the very end.

Why is this competition important?

The direct choice and the active participation of the citizens are a fundamental element of the competition and we have always insisted on that. Bulgarian mayors are elected on a majority principle and in this sense enjoy high legitimacy and responsibility before their constituents.

For all those involved in local politics, it is clear that the mayor and the municipality are the governing body closest to the citizens and as such, they are the first to be approached by the people when they have a problem, need help or want to raise complaints. The Covid-19 pandemic has once again confirmed this.

At the same time, Bulgarian municipalities are working in very difficult conditions, and this year also with an increased budget deficit due to the pandemic. Through "Mayor of the Year" we want to give more publicity to these 265 majority-elected mayors, who develop projects every day for the benefit of their fellow citizens. With this national consultation, we want to give a clearer view of what is happening in the country.

I believe that the competition "Mayor of the Year" is an excellent opportunity for citizens to show their confidence in the local administration or alternatively show it that it is not on the right track, without having to waiting until the next elections.

The coronavirus has become a priority in the agenda of Bulgarian municipalities and citizens. Do you expect the way mayors have responded to the pandemic to influence the choices and distribution of awards?

Certainly, the management of the corona crisis, as far as this has been within the hands of the local governments, had an impact on the rating of individual mayors. But let's not forget that projects have also been implemented in many other fields and this is an award that aims to encourage municipal administrations that work for the benefit of citizens and are close to them. This is the reason why we introduced a separate category for social measures during the pandemic.

The increase in the number of votes cast, but also the active campaign in support of the candidates, which often comes from the citizens themselves, are a pleasant surprise for us.

We will follow with interest the awarding of the most approved Bulgarian mayors on 30 October. And do you have anything in store for their European counterparts?

Of course, we have not forgotten about them. 3 years ago, we created the web portal TheMayor.EU and turned it into an open online space for sharing good practices, successful management decisions and exchange of know-how among European Union mayors.

Together with TheMayor.EU team, we are actively working on the realization of the similar "Mayor of Europe" Awards, which will recognize the most deserving local authorities from the EU countries, as they are seen by their own citizens.

Such an award would encourage the motivation of local authorities to grow, their desire to learn from each other and to apply good practices in their localities that have already brought good results elsewhere. We hope that we will be able to implement this project soon.



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