Mayor Kimmo Jarva
I have been the mayor of Lappeenranta since December 2011. I was already familiar with South Karelia, since I had worked as the mayor of the neighbouring municipality, Taipalsaari, at the beginning of the century. I have also held this post in Kurikka and Vihti, from where I moved to Lappeenranta.
I was born in Tampere and I hold an MA degree in administration. My hobbies are tennis, going to the gym, biking and, especially in summertime, jogging in this scenic city of ours.
I fell in love with the South Karelian scenery and exceptional urban framework of Lappeenranta at first sight. The view from the bay to the city, bringing to mind an amphitheatre, always makes a strong impression on me, no matter how often I see it. The proximity of the harbour and the Fortress, large parks and the linden trees accentuate the distinctive atmosphere in the centre.
I find the preservation of our architectural heritage important, though it is also necessary to redesign the urban structure and make it more compact. A breathing, modern, pedestrian-oriented city that values its traditions and has parks, meeting places and diverse services attracts entrepreneurs and tourists and is also a pleasant place to live in.
I think South Karelian people are different from other Finns in their very sociable, friendly and open character. I have noticed that here, innovation often stems from openness and interaction. Matters are approached from various angles, and sometimes it seems that although the locals are never in a hurry, we still get a lot done and people know how to work together.
At the start of my term, I have had to concentrate on balancing the city’s finances. However, I have noticed that both policy-makers and residents are well aware of the financial realities. Their requests have therefore been reasonable. Elected representatives and employees have committed themselves admirably to savings obligations and joint targets. The organisational change in the city’s administration has also been patiently implemented in close cooperation with the employees.
Compared to the municipalities that I have managed previously, this border town is remarkably international. I travel to Russia at least once a month in my capacity as mayor. Other countries are just as important. I want to keep Lappeenranta close to Europe. That is why maintaining and developing the airport is of the essence.
The City of Lappeenranta provides an environment favourable to a wide range of livelihoods. Shopping tourism from Russia is only one of our assets. The forest industry continues to be an important employer, but we are also investing in competence-based entrepreneurship and the development of tourism and services.
The university and the university of applied sciences are our engines. When innovations created here are first tested locally, international markets open up for them and our businesses succeed. This, in turn, improves employment.
The development of Green Lappeenranta and the conservation of Pien-Saimaa, the southern part of Lake Saimaa, are close to my heart. The joint goal of all residents is that Lappeenranta will be waste-free and carbon-neutral by 2050. By making wise choices in terms of resources, we can increase our city’s vitality and its appeal to residents and visitors alike.
The city has expanded due to consolidations of municipalities, and I find it important that the views of residents living in different parts of the city are communicated to policy-makers. Residents’ activities are well-organised in our city, and the opportunities for participation are excellent.
I am pleased that the locals think of me as someone who is down-to-earth and approachable. It makes me happy that many people greet me in the street and stop for a little chat. Good interaction contributes to an open, unreserved atmosphere. When we who live here are positive and hospitable, it is easy for others to come here too.