By Drossoulla Mavromatis
Mayor of Tarpon Springs, Florida, Chris Alahouzos has many accomplishments to celebrate in 2019. One being his victory in the re-elections that took place on March 12, 2019. It is not every day that somebody born In Kalymnos, Greece has the opportunity to win an American election (twice), to be the mayor of a U.S city.
Mayor Alahouzos has lived in Florida since he was 13 years old and became the first Greek-born mayor of Tarpon Springs, a pretty town, which has the highest percentage of Greek Americans of any city in the US.
I had the opportunity to sit down with the mayor to discuss: his thoughts on his victory in the reelections, his future plans for the city of Tarpon Springs, and the “Sister Cities” program.
Congratulations, this is your second victory in the election for the position as mayor; what does it mean to you to know that the citizens of Tarpon Springs have chosen you to be their mayor again?
Well, first of all, I would say that I am very grateful to the people of Tarpon Springs because they trust me. They approve the work that I completed in my first three years, and they want me to continue to complete more projects.
What are your plans for the future of the citizens?
We have completed one hundred projects in my first three years as the mayor. We completed services for the youth, families, as well for the seniors. We created services such as the Senior Information Center, and also transportation for seniors. This is a prototype because; we are not going to be using buses to pick up the residents to get them where they need to go. It’s going to be service on demand. When they need a ride, they are going to call a number, and a taxi or Uber will be dispatched to the house. From there, the taxi will take them to the: doctor’s office, pharmacy, supermarket, or hospital.
For those of you who do not know, Mayor Alahouzos has made history here in Tarpon Springs. He is the first mayor to be born in Greece, to be elected. This is such a great accomplishment and inspiration to not only Greeks but to other immigrants of the United States. How does it feel to know that you made that kind of history? You came from a completely different country, where English was not your first language.
Well, this proves to everyone that if you work hard, and you are determined, you will always achieve your goals. And that is exactly what I did.
Here in Tarpon Springs, we have a very special program called the ‘Sister Cities.’ Can you explain what this program is?
It is an opportunity for the sister cities to exchange education, culture, and economic development. Tarpon Springs has four sister cities, Kalymnos, Symi, Halki, and Larnaca of Cyprus.
What are your goals for the future of the ‘Sister Cities’ program?
To enhance the things that we already have started. Right now, we are working on the sister schools as well. Sunset Hills Elementary will be creating a relationship with a third elementary school in Kalymnos; the high school will also be creating a relationship with the Lykio.
The mayor also added, “For St. Petersburg College, we just recently had a Skype session talking to the Aegean University based in Rhodes to be able to have an exchange program. This means that students and professors will be able to exchange from one school to another."
You recently met up with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and President Prokopios Pavlopoulos. What did you discuss regarding ‘Sister Cities?’
We mostly talked about the needs of the Greek islands. We talked about subjects such as transportation, economic development, and what we can do to recruit businesses. Another thing that we talked about at the time was: the need of having the academy for captains; I was trying to introduce the idea to them. I am in close communication with the mayor of Kalymnos, so I knew exactly what he needed me to talk about.
As for the future goals that Mayor Alahouzos hopes to achieve with the president and prime minister; he has discussed a program with them that he has in place to, “bring more Greek teachers to Tarpon Springs from Athens to teach the Greek language.” And says "we were very successful.”
After completing this interview, it was evident as to why the citizens of Tarpon Springs have once again chosen Chris Alahouzos to be their mayor! It looks like Mayor Alahouzos has many exciting plans for the future of Tarpon Springs and the Greek islands. We wish him nothing but the best of luck, and are excited to see what the future holds!