Mayor denies a presidential bidSeoul Mayor Park Won-soon declared yesterday that he won’t run for president in 2017, nipping speculation that he intended to use the Seoul mayorship as a springboard into the Blue House.
“I’m not thinking about running in the next presidential election,” Park said during a forum hosted by Kwanhoon Club, a fraternity of senior journalists, at the Seoul Press Center. “Dealing with Seoul city affairs is more important to me.”
The panel at the session involving Park consisted of veteran journalists, and their questions revolved around the mayor’s future political moves.
The 57-year-old Democratic Party member said he will concentrate on winning re-election in Seoul’s mayoral election set for next June.
“I think it will be wise if I focus on Seoul city affairs so that I win the hearts and minds of citizens,” he said.
As for his relationship with independent lawmaker Ahn Cheol-soo, who chose not to run in the 2011 by-election in which Park gained office, and who supported his bid, Park said, “We are still having a trust-based relationship.”
But he said this didn’t necessarily mean he would join any new party formed by Ahn, the independent representative for Nowon C District, northern Seoul.
“I think Ahn and I can cooperate under different party affiliations, although a party represents a member’s ideology and values to some degree,” he said.
He also addressed the touchy issue of the budget for welfare programs, which has pitted Seoul city against the central government.
“The central government needs to be more responsible for their promises,” he said. “The National Assembly heavy-handedly passed the law that requires the city government to pay 80 percent of the money for free day care programs,” Park noted. “I wanted to discuss the issue with the government, but the meeting proposal was never accepted.”
BY PARK EUN-JEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]