Hürriyet, Turkey
Feb 28 2009

Mustafa Sarıgül - Devoted to his constituency

ISTANBUL - Å?iÅ?li is one of Istanbul's modern districts
today. Along with NıÅ?antaÅ?ı,
Te&#x C5;?vikiye and Maçka, it forms one of the most important
municipalities within the metropolitan city of Istanbul.

This is an area of approximately 300,000 people with upscale but
ageing apartment buildings, crumbling infrastructure, fashionable,
brand name stores (especially for clothing and shoes), cinemas,
restaurants and bustling crowds.

It's hard to imagine that as recently as the 1850s this area was
covered with vegetable and fruit gardens and that the road from Taksim
to Pangalti on the outskirts was lined with
graves. Å?iÅ?li carries the name of a family engaged in
making skewers (sis) who had a home there. As the city's population
grew, the well-to-do moved north toward Å?iÅ?li and
eventually the cemeteries were for the most part moved. The wealthy
were joined by the much less well to do in middle class apartment
buildings behind the major streets and then driven out by them to less
crowded areas. Private apartments gave way to stores and elegant
offices. Streets became overcrowded with cars and delivery trucks and

Leader required

The Å?iÅ?li scenario was similar to that of the rest of
Istanbul and required a leader who would take a serious interest in
solving the area's many problems. That person was and still is
Å?iÅ?li Mayor Mustafa Sarıgül, a
good-looking 53-year-old who is serious but has an attractive smile to
match his sense of humor. He has become deeply involved in solving the
problems of Å?iÅ?li and making the area a much nicer place
to live, as he had pledged to do when running for office. Now he is
running again for a third term.

When Sarıgül was elected mayor, he faced and still faces
daunting tasks. He gets up at 6 a.m. to work until nearly
midnight. One has to wonder how he keeps up the pace because he still
finds time to run, swim and read books on political issues. Under him
the municipality repaired infrastructure and got involved in education
and health, two areas not normally handled by the smaller
municipalities. Building restoration was encouraged. Campaigns were
organized to promote sales. The mayor even set up a shelter for street
animals. And he embarked on direct contact with mayors of the European
Union and even set up an EU Center that provides information on what's
happening that affects Turkey in a weekly bulletin.

Sarıgül most recently introduced an integrated waste
management project that he expects its successful implementation will
serve as an example for other cities in Turkey. This is an 18-month
long project that is financed by the European Union as part of efforts
to increase the dialogue between Turkey and the EU.

Sarıgül believes that not enough is being done to inform
the public regarding the EU. He said, "Our citizens don't have enough
information about the European Union which is the most important
question concerning the EU today in Turkey. In particular the steps
that Turkey has taken on the road to membership in the EU and the EU's
attitudes toward Turkey must be followed in a transparent manner by
all Turks.

"What a pity that those who are responsible for this subject are not
doing their duty completely. Neither the EU nor Ankara is doing its
duty of informing the people who want Turkey to have a democracy that
is modern, developed and excellent and who are ready to carry out all
sorts of sacrifice."

Sarıgül's ambitions have been directing his energy
towards the betterment of the Å?iÅ?li area. He's been
known to compare NıÅ?antaÅ?ı to New York or
Paris in terms of attractions at Christmas time. He even went so far
as to suggest that no one would even miss those two cities'
decorations when they visited Å?iÅ?li. A visit to Giresun
and Ordu on the Black Sea at the invitation of NGOs there to join in
festivities being held in the meadows above those two cities suggested
to some that he is interested in national politics again or perhaps

Involved in community

Sarıgül's smile was missing the day that Agos newspaper
editor-in-chief Hrant Dink was murdered; the Armenian newspaper is
located in Å?iÅ?li. The mayor came to the murder site
himself and in a public statement decried what he called an attack on
Turkey's democracy by people who wanted to divide the
country. "Thoughts can never be silenced by crude force,"
Sarıgül said.

The murder of the Armenian editor was far different from another event
that put the Å?iÅ?li mayor back in the headlines. He
presented Pope Benedict XVI with a dove as a symbol of peace during
the latter's visit to Turkey. He's coming to be known by this white
dove, a symbol of the Democratic Left Party, or DSP, that originated
with the late Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit.

The Å?iÅ?li mayor was a very prominent member of the
Republican People's Party, or CHP, and when he challenged the chairman
of the CHP, Deniz Baykal, for the leadership of the party, he knew it
would be tough to unseat the incumbent and the result was his being
kicked out of the CHP. The suggestion has been that Baykal was far
from happy to have such a rival in his party. Sarıgül
now belongs to the DSP. He has an approval rating of 68 percent
according to the most recent polls with 20 percent undecided.

Door-to-door campaigning

On the campaign trail, Sarıgül starts his day at
election headquarters with the many volunteers who prepare yellow
flowers, yellow umbrellas, yellow rosettes and the like and then he
walks around the streets, house to house and door-to-door presenting
these to the people living there. He also listens very carefully to
what these people have to say. His campaign kicked off with a "Walk
for Love" that attracted some 40,000 people.

Sarıgül maintains a very high profile in
Å?iÅ?li. He seems to be everywhere and especially where
schools and education are concerned..

There seems little doubt but what Mustafa Sarıgül will
be successful in the March 29 election and be able to further help the
citizens of Å?iÅ?li.


Born in Erzincan in 1956, Mustafa Sarıgül attended
school at Talatpasa and went on to Å?iÅ?li and
Zincirlikuyu, eventually graduating from Marmara University's
Education Faculty. He served in the Kagithane municipality, the
greater municipality of Istanbul and the management of IETT (Istanbul
Electric Tramway and Tunel Administration).

Sarıgül began his political life as a member of the
Republican People's Party, or CHP, Youth Branch Management Council and
held various positions before becoming a member of Parliament in
1987. He later wrote about his experiences. It was only in 1999 that
he decided to run for mayor of Å?iÅ?li as a member of the
CHP and later he won reelection with a record-breaking 70 percent of
the vote for any CHP candidate. He was so good at his job that he
received the medal for superior service from the president of Romania.

Sarıgül is married and has two children. He's a fan of
the Galatasaray football team.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress