Georgia’s upcoming local elections would be quite local, indeed, were it not for candidates like Joseph Alexander Smith, the first-ever expat-turned-Georgian-citizen to run for office in the country. His bid for a seat in Tbilisi’s City Council will test Georgian voters on a longstanding sensitive point – the extent to which a non-ethnic-Georgian can be accepted as an actual Georgian.
The right to safe movement, right to clean air and right to green space are the triune principle which Smith, a 32-year-old British-Georgian freelance journalist, environmental activist and cycling enthusiast, wants to bring to his adoptive home city, where cars and construction increasingly have the right of way.
Featuring grey, fast growing high-rises and a chronic traffic jam, Smith’s district, Saburtalo, epitomizes many of Tbilisi’s problems. Still, Smith and his eco-ideas got a mixed reception when he announced his candidacy over Facebook.
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