RIGA - Lawmakers from Latvia's lush seaside town of Jurmala have sacked Inese Aizstrauta from the mayor's seat for "inadequate" performance and elected Raimonds Munkevics in her stead. Nine out of 15 council members supported Munkevics, who is from the Jurmala Our Home party on Sept. 7. Aizstrauta, who tried to regain her seat, received the remaining six votes.
"Today emotions were high, but I hope that we will be able to join together, working for the good of the people," the new mayor said, promising to live up to lawmakers' expectations.
The political standoff in the small community received wide coverage in Latvia's media given the town's enormous real estate values and powerful residents, who include President Vaira Vike-Freiberga.
Munkevics told journalists that he did not expect any major cooperation problems within the council as there were few political topics on the agenda, mostly just economic issues.
Asked how he plans to settle the problems that Aizstrauta, in his words, "failed to solve," Munkevics became tongue tied. Evading the question, the new mayor only reiterated his earlier statement. "These problems," he said, "were not solved at all by Aizstrauta."
As an example he pointed to Jurmala's housing development program, which "was approved [by Aizstrauta], but not implemented."
Deputies had also named Aigars Tampe from For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK and Dainis Urbanovics from the Latvian Social Democratic Workers Party as possible candidates for the position, but they later recalled their candidacies.
Munkevics added that he would soon propose the dismissal of vice mayor Urbanovics. Janis Kuzins from the Motherland Alliance would make a better candidate for the position, he added.
On Sept. 7, Jurmala lawmakers dismissed city mayor Aizstrauta after lengthy debate. The decision, which was proposed by Munkevics, was passed with nine votes to six.
Munkevics had several times complained that Aizstrauta was weakening the council's performance. The former mayor had failed to act in a constructive and objective manner, and had neglected to implement an effective development strategy in both the business and employment field.
Nine lawmakers backed Munkevics' proposal.
The Jurmala city council consists of 15 lawmakers and Aizstrauta is still supported by five of them 's two former New Era lawmakers, who were expelled from the party alongside Aizstrauta, and one deputy from the People's Party, LSDSP and Our Land.