Leaders » Political Leaders » YIANNIS BOUTARIS
|Full name||: Yiannis Boutaris|
|Alias||: Yiannis Boutaris|
|Animals||: The Horse|
|Father||: Stelios Boutaris|
|Mother||: Fani Misiou|
|Siblings||: Konstantinos Boutaris|
|Wife||: Athina Michael|
|Children||: Stelios Boutaris, Fanny Boutaris, Michalis Boutaris|
|Education||: Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Anatolia College|
|Activists||: Political Leaders , Business People|
Yiannis Boutaris is currently the mayor of Thessaloniki, the second largest city of Greece. This progressive and inspiring leader is not your conventional politician. When envisioning political figures rarely do we think of someone who has seven tattoos, spiky hair, and a pierced ear. He frequently smokes cigarettes and is one of Greece’s first political figures to never wear the traditional tie. His rise to power may be surprising but the city of Thessaloniki was desperate for change after the previous mayor was jailed for embezzlement and the city’s economy was in serious debt. Despite his completely radical demeanor, this man has achieved worldwide recognition. Countries from around the world have described him as a “beacon of hope” and a “model” for Greece. He has received nothing but praise from the European Union for his efforts to control government spending and support his city’s economy. He frequently travels abroad seeking advice and encouraging people from around the world to visit his city.
From 1969 to 1996, Yiannis Boutaris worked in the family winery. During his stint with the J.Boutari & Sons Wineries he held the positions of assistant director, technical director, and managing director.
During the 1990s, he transformed an abandoned village owned by his family into a wildlife reserve called Arcturos. The reserve is a sanctuary for brown bear, wolves, red deer, lynx, golden jackals, the European otter, flora, and several other animals and plant life.
In 1997, he decided to leave the family business and forge his own path. He founded the Kir-Yianni company. This winery is based in Northern Greece in Naoussa and Amyndeon and focuses on innovation and integrated farming.
In 2003, he decided to move on from the winery and left his company in the hands of his son. His company was very successful but he wanted to pursue politics.
In 2006, he unsuccessfully ran for mayor. His main platform involved radically changing the city. His main goal was to form a more stable economy. He was, however, neither a left-wing nor a right-wing politician. He fell somewhere in the middle and currently describes himself as a pro-business social democrat.
In November 2010, Yiannis Boutaris was elected as mayor of Thessaloniki. His unconventional attitude and honest personality was exactly the radical change the city wanted and needed. He was backed by a more centered left-wing political party, though he had never been a member of the party.
In May of 2012, he held a meeting with mayor of Bitola, Macedonia. The two nations settled their differences and signed a declaration of cooperation. The two leaders downplayed previous border issues and explored the idea of Thessaloniki becoming a regional center of education and multiculturalism.
In 2014, Yiannis Boutaris was re-elected as mayor of Thessaloniki with nearly 60% of the vote. Since taking office, he has changed city hall by making council sessions air on television and mandating that the heads of different departments come together for meetings.
His most notable work as mayor has been the improvement on his city’s economy. He is widely recognized for cutting back government costs. In 2011, he reduced the budget deficit by 30% and restructured his administration by significantly reducing the amount of departments and staff.
Yiannis Boutaris has been successful in reminding his city of their ethnically diverse history. He has openly encouraged the building of mosques and a Department of Islamic studies at Aristotle University. His openness has led to much higher tourism rates.
Yiannis Boutaris was born on June 13, 1942 in Thessaloníki, Greece. His father, Stelios Boutaris, was a winemaker. The Boutari winery had been passed down for generations, making them the oldest winemaking family in Greece.
He went to elementary school at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and secondary school at Anatolia College. In 1965, he graduated in chemistry from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
In 1967, he graduated in oenology from the Wine Institute of Athens. He then went on and joined the family business.
He was married to Athina Michael for seven years. They divorced, but later remarried. She later passed away in 2007.
He has three children: Stelios, Michalis, and Fanny. In 2003, his son Stelios took over management of Kir-Yiannis so that he could focus on his political career.
He has been open about his prior alcohol addiction. In 1991, he went to a rehab program and has been alcohol free since then. Even while working at the winery he refused to drink any of the wine.
As mayor, Boutaris does not use the limousine he is entitle to. Instead, he has opted for a small eco-friendly Fiat Panda and often pedals to a favorite café in Thessaloniki on his bicycle.
He was awarded winemaker of the year in both 1996 and 2003. His own company is dedicated to making authentic and appealing premium wines.
In 2012, the London-based City Mayors’ Foundation chose him as 'the best mayor of the world' for the month of October. He was given this award for his efforts to strengthen Thessaloniki’s finances.
In 2014, the Huffington Post placed him at the top of a list describing their favorite mayoral characters. The same year, he was nominated for the World Mayor Prize along with only 26 other leaders. He ultimately did not receive the award, but even receiving a nomination for this prestigious award is an achievement in itself.