Netiran>Articles>Politics>Councils>An Interview with Mehdi Chamran, Elected Tehran Councilman
: "Date Added:Mar 18 2003 Print Version
An Interview with Mehdi Chamran, Elected Tehran Councilman
Syasaterooz, Daily Newspaper, Vol. 2, No. 552, Mar. 18th, 2003, Page 6
Word Count : 1954
The Feb 28 elections swept the upstart "Developers of Islamic Iran Coalition" to victory. The coalition offered a list bearing names of experts with murky political background and managed to beat the apparently powerful groups like the Islamic Iran Participation Front, the Executives of Construction Party and the Islamic Iran Solidarity Party. Eventually the little- known coalition took the helm of council affairs. But such victory in the elections rivalry and winning the public confidence represents half of the game and the remaining half is presenting an efficient and up-to-date picture of the councils.
Eyes are kept on the planning of the elected councilman in Tehran for running the urban affairs in the megalopolis.
Therefore we were prompted to seek the views of elected Tehran councilman Mehdi Chamran, a faculty member of the architecture department of Tehran University.
Q: Mr. Engineer! What's your assessment of the council elections?
A: Let me not offer any assessment as it lies with the analysts. It naturally needs fundamentals and preparations I have not worked on. Superficial assessments stand out and anyone offers a specific analysis but they are unacceptable. Preparations are required for any analysis. So, I will offer my analysis after I work on the preliminary affairs.
Q: My question is related to your assessment of the people's behavior in the council elections. Of course I do not want you to offer any political assessment of the councils.
A: In my judgment, the people voted an independent tendency bearing in mind the failure of political groups and factions. They were of the view that the politics should not have overshadowed the city council and that was why the candidates with good specialty in urban planning were elected.
Q: How did the Developers of Islamic Iran Coalition take shape?
A: Several friends gathered and persuaded others to join us. I personally did not approve of contesting the vote but under certain circumstances I felt it was required to provide people with independent elections. To this end, we encouraged those with specialty and experience in urban affairs to convene and form an alliance. They were specialized or experienced in architecture, urban planning, development affairs, cultural, social and sports affairs, immunization, seismic operations as well as economic, environmental or health affairs. The coalition was set up shortly and we had to find a name for the alliance in three days.
Q: So you jumped to the fray in an attempt to add to the options and persuade much more people to cast ballots.
A: I do not know. We felt so and our opinion polls proved that the people would stay away. We decided to boost the electorate turnout and thank God we managed to entice more people to vote.
Q: Do you think that the presence of your coalition in the elections swayed the electorate turnout?
A: Certainly! Those who wanted to boycott the vote came to the fore and cast their ballots. The turnout rose and it is a matter of pride for us. It constituted a great success for us to persuade so many people to vote.
Q: The press corps reported low turnout in big cities. What do you think given your judgment that many people approved of your plans?
A: Those who stayed away from voting have their own reasons and justifications and it is up to the analysts to make a scientific and reasonable analysis of this issue regardless of any political or factional affiliations.
Q: Mr. Engineer! Did you think of your victory in the polls?
A: I was pretty sure to win the elections.
Q: What made you so confident?
A: The people voted me on the coattails of my brother, Mostafa Chamran who was killed in the Iraqi imposed war. Dr Sheibani was also credited as a trans-factional, committed and devout figure who has served the Iranian establishment. He was known for his anti-shah struggles and his imprisonment and the people hold respect for such values. Therefore we felt we would win the elections.
Q: Were there other figures who turned down your invitation to join the coalition?
A: Yes, we invited certain specialists who refused to join us but others replaced them.
Q: Would you please tell us about the political and executive background of the candidates put up by the Developers of Islamic Iran Coalition? Except fro two the rest are little known.
A: All candidates have good scientific and executive backgrounds and some of them have been involved in executive affairs for 15-20 years and some others have served as university professors. They are specialized and experienced. This is a unique group as most of them are university professors with specialty in seismography, traffic control, architecture, urban planning, development as well as cultural and social affairs.
Q: How did the Developers of Islamic Iran Coalition organize its list of candidates?
A: As I said, some friends offered this suggestion and our comrades were mostly experienced in executive affairs. Therefore it was not difficult for us and we could organize the affairs shortly. We did not mull over a pervasive task and we only felt obliged to inform the people of our presence in the vote and we did not make so much progress in this field. Some friends raised our eyebrows as they told us after the elections that they did not know of our candidacy. Anyhow we tried our best to carry out our tasks and disseminate information but we could not afford any extensive campaigning.
Q: How much did you earmark for campaigning costs?
A: I did not make any specific estimate of the campaigning costs. Anyhow, a number of friends assembled and voiced their readiness to help us and we feel ashamed to accept their goodwill gesture. We had to behave so as a matter of responsibility.
Q: Did the political parties and groups advocate you?
A: As far as I remember roughly eleven political and scientific groups espoused our views by including the names of some of our candidates in their lists. For instance, the Association of Iranian Engineers included us in their lists on grounds that we were members of the association for thirty years.
Q: Did they underwrite you?
A: No, they didn't.
Q: Some tendencies attribute the low turnout in the council elections to the victory of your coalition. What do you think?
A: I don't think that this analysis is true. Had the people voted more, we would have gained much more votes.
Q: To what extent are you familiar with the urban management affairs?
A: We firstly conducted certain studies in the Tehran City Hall and as an architect I was not unacquainted with the urban affairs. I have worked on many inclusive architectural projects and for this purpose I had to undertake planning to know what I should do.
Q: What field did you concentrate your efforts on?
A: We have given priority to two categories of affairs; The first group constitutes the emergency affairs like regulating the architectural and urban planning affairs to make decisions on the basis of scientific criteria. For instance, building construction and density need such urgent planning. The second group constitutes affairs which are not urgent but they might show their impacts in the future.
For example, urban construction, green space, traffic control and subway can create positive developments or arise problems in the future. Such issues are given priority.
Q: Did you set up any committee to accomplish your goals?
A: Regardless of the committees required by the organizational chart to be set up and need to be revised, we started categorizing special fields immediately after the elections results were announced. For example, we included development, architecture, beautification, immunization and even seismography and traffic control in one category to be handled by a single committee. Another committee was set up to cope with planning, yet another one to deal with budgeting and other committees to deal with social, cultural and sports affairs.
Q: Can you tell us about the combination of such committees?
A: The combination was based on the specialty of councilmen but I refuse to announce the makeup for the moment because no organized job has been done yet.
Q: What is your strategic slogan in running the city council?
A: We try to not chant slogans and our strategy is serving the residents of Tehran. I was born in a downtown district of Tehran and lived there for around 30 years. My parents still live there and anyhow we want to be good and honest servants for the people of Tehran.
Q: The City Council should elect a mayor and now speculation is rife over new Tehran mayor. Have you reached a consensus on election of the mayor?
A: We are considering a number of candidates based on the rules and regulations we have announced earlier and notably based on the guidelines of the Supreme Leader. We are undertaking surveillance to reach a final option.
Q: What are the Tehran City Council's expectations of the mayor?
A: Any mayor should be qualified to shoulder such heavy burden. He should be also righteous, brave, frugal and disciplined.
Q: Do your options have such characteristics?
A: Rarely can you find someone with the entire characteristics but many people might have them relatively. We are focusing our efforts on finding the best.
Q: The political circles are rife with the speculation that the Tehran City Hall would undergo major developments and alterations in the future after a mayor is elected. What do you think?
A: We welcome any development or alteration if based on regulations. Anyone advocates reforming evolution but we oppose any imbroglio. Clearly speaking, those who have done well can continue their work and of course we will substitute better figures for those now at work. I reject the idea of reshuffle.
Q: What's your anticipation? Will such reshuffle take place in the Tehran City Hall?
A: I don't think so. Of course, shakeup differs from reshuffle. It is unreasoned to replace those at work with new ones without any justification.
Q: Is the mayor elected by an ad hoc committee in the City Council or the whole councilmen should reach consensus?
A: The entire councilmen should reach consensus. We have defined qualifications and we will try to find the best mayor.
Q: What would happen to Hamshahri newspaper?
A: We have not made any specific decision yet. A decision in this respect has to be reasonable, precise and accurate. After we elect a mayor we would make up our minds about Hamshahri.
Q: What do you think about the rumors of delegating the license of Hamshahri to other institutions?
A: Coincidentally we have conducted a study to distinguish legal and illegal aspects and it seems that its license could not be diverted legally. We have not started our work and Hamshahri is run by another entity.
Q: What shall you do if Hamshahri goes under the authority of any other institution?
A: We will do what we approve of. But we do not favor any such delegation of authority. Anything owned by the Municipality should be run by itself. Everyone should be patient and any change should not disturb the entire affairs.
Q: When will you name the future mayor of Tehran?
A: We will try to introduce the mayor within the legal deadline.
Q: Mr. Chamran, we thank you.