Rep. Na Kyung-won of the ruling Grand National Party will officially enter the upcoming Seoul mayoral race Friday as the party’s frontrunner.
“I expect the race to be very difficult,” Na said in the party’s Supreme Council meeting on Thursday.
She also called for the party’s full support, hinting at her competition against conservative independent candidate Lee Seog-yeon.
“Rep. Na’s decision is a sign of her devotion to the party and I hope that we unite to help her in the by-election,” said party chairman Hong Joon-pyo.
She thus became the seventh official candidate in the race.
According to a survey conducted by Seoul Sinmum, Na was ranked first among the ruling camp hopefuls, with a 38 percent support rate.
Former Government Legislation Minister Lee Seog-yeon, took 14.1 percent, fifth among the six ruling party figures and ninth among all 12. Lee announced his bid Wednesday.
The support rate for Rep. Koh Seung-duk and former Prime Minister Chung Un-chan, on the other hand, rose to 25.3 percent and 23.7 percent respectively.
Among all 12 potential candidates, Park Won-soon, an independent, topped the list at 47.6 percent.
“The Seoul mayor post is not a mere administrative job but also a political one, mediating the social conflicts between different groups,” Na said. “It is crucial for the new mayor to work for the best interest of the citizens.”
Rep. Na Kyung-won (left) of the Grand National Party talks with a driver in western Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap News)
She once again affirmed her stance over the free school meals issue, which prompted former Mayor Oh Se-hoon’s resignation after he lost a referendum to change the city’s policy.
“My thoughts and policies over the free meals have not changed,” she said.
“However, I believe that the results of the plebiscite, or rather its lack of required quorum, reflected the citizens’ opinion and I will take that into consideration.”
Na earlier expressed support for Oh, who opposed universal provision of free meals to elementary and middle school students and bet his mayoral post on the results of the vote.
She was regarded by many as taking the same position as Oh and faced opposition from those in the party against Oh’s push for the referendum.
Na recently moved from the parliamentary culture committee to the welfare committee, claiming that it was upon the party’s request.
She also reinforced her welfare policy positions such as increasing the number of low-floor buses for the handicapped and senior citizens.
“Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi may need to work together and amplify synergy as a megalopolis unit,” she said.
She visited Sogang University and in-city bus stations to speak with students and citizens.
By Bae Hyun-jung (firstname.lastname@example.org