Priit Värk, Source: Paide Municipality

We want to keep the city safe and make Paide a great place for setting up a home and a family

We want to keep the city safe and make Paide a great place for setting up a home and a family

Interview with Priit Värk, Mayor of Paide in Estonia

Priit Värk was born on 11 April 1985 in Tartu. He studied at the Paide Co-Ed Gymnasium and later graduated from University of Tartu with a degree in history.

Before entering politics, he was a secretary general of the Union of Estonian Property Owners.  During his political career, which began in 2013, he has been a member of Tallinn City Council, mayor of Paide (2014-2015), advisor in the Estonian Parliament to the Pro Patria fraction and advisor to Minister of Defense.

Priit Värk was elected mayor of Paide by the City Council in November 2017. Currently he's also member of the Estonian Chess Federation board.

Paide is located in the heart of Estonia. Photo by Paide Municipality 

Mayor Värk, please describe the city of Paide in a few sentences.

Paide is a lovely city located in the heart of Estonia on 442 sq km of land populated by 10 500 inhabitants. As the city is small and everything you might need is very close, daily activities can be done on foot or on a bicycle, which is very beneficial for the overall health of our residents. According to a study done in 2018 by the National Institute for Health Development, people of Järva county are the most active in Estonia and knowing this makes us very proud as we constitute 1/3 of the whole county.

Paide was one of the three finalists in the European Mobility Week 2019. What is the reason for this success?

We have made investments into having a good infrastructure enabling sports activities and being active in general. The high-level sports facilities we have today are not very common among small cities like Paide, so the contribution has paid off and even exceeded our expectations.

During the European Mobility Week, we promoted cycling and created more parking lots for bicycles. Another thing worth mentioning is the new school that we built last year where it is possible to go directly outside from each classroom in order to encourage outdoor activities among kids. There is also a skatepark and a climbing wall right next to the schoolhouse.

Furthermore, you often ride a bike to work. How important is it to set a good example in this direction?

I live three kilometers away from work and I cycle to work when the weather is suitable. Being an example in this direction is not my main goal but I do find it as a bonus if this habit is adopted by others as well.

I believe that enabling people to have different options for mobility outside is just as important because otherwise there would be no point in setting an example. I consider having clear footpaths, tidy parks and playgrounds to be significant when aiming towards the overall enhancement of exercising habits among city residents.

And how do you promote sports activity?

We hold sports in high esteem and we encourage practicing them from a young age. As a result, children’s participation in sports is high and we, from the Paide city governmental side, support this as much as possible.

Our football club is the most prominent example, as altogether there are over 400 kids enrolled. Notable is also the big-league team (Paide Linnameeskond) that, for the first time, will play in the UEFA league. The whole city takes a lot of pride in this.

What about the cultural and sports programming this year? How has the coronavirus pandemic affected the annual calendar of events?

The pandemic has affected us the same way as it has affected the rest of Europe and the world. We had no option in this constraining position but to pare down expenses both for cultural and sports programs. Nevertheless, I do have to say that there had never been that many people spending time outside as there were during the pandemic, of course, while complying with the social distance restrictions.

What are your thoughts on TheMayor.EU portal as a unifying platform for Europe’s municipalities? How can it be useful to you and your citizens?

This platform offers a chance to get a good insight of how different municipalities work and what course of action they take. I believe it is a great way for municipalities and citizens to be informed and get to know different governmental practices. The platform also helps to enhance the cohesion objectives, which is important in terms of cooperation.

What are you planning to work on in the near future in order to make Paide a better place to live in?

We want Paide to be a great place to call home as it is a small city located less than an hour away from the capital Tallinn. The goal of our municipality is to keep the city safe and perfectly suitable for people who want to set up a new home and raise a family.

If compared to other Estonian municipalities, we are making an extra effort to have good schools, kindergartens and sports facilities in order to keep our living environment safe, healthy and comfortable. This is something we work on today and will work on in the future.

To find out more about Paide, visit the profile of the municipality.



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