Purely honorary title awarded by a London association, this year it rewards a French mayor of the poorest city in France for his management of the Covid-19 epidemic.
It is rather unusual for Grigny to attract laudatory press titles. This city of Essonne is the poorest in France according to a 2020 report from the Observatory of Inequalities, and the facts of urban violence against the police and between young people regularly punctuate the life of the municipality. However, she can claim since Tuesday to have the “best mayor in the world“, If one believes the” City Mayors Foundation “, at the origin of the poll.
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Since 2004, this London non-profit organization has elected the “best mayor in the world“. The criteria are clearly progressive and focus on actions in terms of sustainable development, inclusion and the fight against poverty. This year, the management of the health crisis dominated the ballot.
On the occasion of the results, the spokesperson for the City Mayors Foundation, Tann vom Hove, praised the mayor of Grigny for “its fight against poverty, its management of the Covid-19 epidemic, and its fight against inequalities». «At the head of one of the poorest cities in France, he has developed a positive but pragmatic vision in his fight against poverty and social exclusion.»He explains again.
The price is purely honorary, it is based on the vote of Internet users from all over the world. Philippe Rio, 47, won the vote, equally with the mayor of Rotterdam, but in front of the mayor of Raqqa in Syria, that of Bogota in Colombia or that of Freetown in Sierra Leone. “I did not apply», Assures the person who nevertheless accepted that his name be presented.
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The mayor of Grigny is not a beginner. In addition to a certain international existence since he chairs the French branch of the international network Mayors for Peace (Mayors for Peace), he has distinguished himself for several years by his political commitment in favor of working-class suburbs.
Already in 2015, he was one of the few mayors who gave François Hollande a manifesto calling for the re-establishment of the Republic in its working-class neighborhoods. In 2017, alongside 1000 elected officials from both left and right, he participated in “Grigny’s call»To warn about the abolition of aid to associations, and city policy credits. On January 29, 2021, six years to days after going to the Élysée, Jean Castex and a procession of ministers go to Grigny to present a plan for the working-class neighborhoods. “In 2015, it was Grigny who came to the Republic, six years later, it is the Republic that comes to Grigny. It is a beautiful symbolic», Comments Philippe Rio.
“It’s our daily life to manage crises”
Philippe Rio was elected mayor of Grigny in 2014, the city where he arrived at the age of six months. He grew up in a ‘poor family», In the Grande Borne, one of the today difficult districts of the city, whose physiognomy was fixed by the architectural utopia of the 1960s. After a baccalaureate G3 (commercial techniques), then a master’s degree in town planning at Science Po, he became involved in associations and then in politics within the Communist Party, of which he has been a member since 1995.
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Philippe Rio was largely rewarded for his management of the Covid-19 crisis. “During the Covid epidemic, the two mayors (Philippe Rio and the mayor of Rotterdam) demonstrated exceptional leadership, realizing early on the threat the virus can pose to the most vulnerable sections of civil society“Noted the City Mayors Foundation.
“France is fragmented, the Republic has left certain territories. But for it to come back, we need three things: the police, justice and education ”
Philippe Rio, PCF mayor of Grigny
Like all poor cities in France, Grigny has been hit very hard by the pandemic. During the first months of the health crisis, Philippe Rio and his teams struggled to ensure the continuity of the public service and support the most vulnerable. “The associations closed for lack of volunteers, so we had to take their place, he tells the Figaro. We recovered their stocks, toured the stores, and we managed to distribute 500 meals a day“. The period was difficult, and the nights short, putting all the teams to the test. “But paradoxically, I would say that we had an advantage, nevertheless explains Philippe Rio. It is our daily life to manage crises. Social crisis, educational crisis, urban violence … And since we have no money, we are resourceful professionals».
Determined to draw attention to territorial inequalities, the elected official does not turn a blind eye to the difficulties that exist in these neighborhoods. “France is fragmented, the Republic has left certain territories, he said. Most por for her to come back, three things are needed: the police, the justice system and education». But on the eve of the presidential elections, Philippe Rio is happy that this unexpected spotlight is making popular cities talk other than through the violence that regularly makes headlines. “My goal is that we talk about Grigny as a city that is certainly complicated, but where people are motivated to get by.».