Has the interest in personal involvement in local politics become stronger or weaker?? That’s what we wanted to know from members of the five parties represented in the staffelstein city council – and also from the afd, which will be running for the first time with a city council list.
When asked if it has been difficult to find 24 candidates for the list for the city council election, winfried ernst (freie wahler) answers: "i have not had any difficulties in acquiring people. We are a broad-based grouping. It’s important to us to include all localities, to have a broadly diversified field of candidates, and to get older and younger people on the list."
Competent candidates wanted
Winfried ernst admits that, compared to the last municipal election six years ago, it has become a bit more difficult to get those candidates whose cooperation and expertise would be welcome. "Those you want to have, usually already have a lot around their ears", he says, but that does not mean filling up the list with just anyone. A certain amount of persuasion is required if one has the ambition to find the right people and persuade them to run for office.
According to winfried ernst, the average amount of time a city council member spends each month depends on how actively he or she participates in the process. If you take into account the fact that there is one city council meeting, one parliamentary group meeting and one committee meeting per month, and if you add the time it takes to familiarize yourself with the issues, then you have to spend at least eight hours on them.
Striving for balance
"It was just as difficult as ever", answers hans josef stich (CSU) and adds: "we were able to get several lists full, but there should be a certain balance in terms of occupational groups and the proportion between men and women." It is also important to find people who care about their home town, who are well networked and socially engaged in the city, and who are committed to the well-being of the citizens: "you don’t appeal to people who just sit at home in front of the television and eat their chips."
Of course, you have to live with the fact that you will be turned down, because the people you are talking to are often people "who already have enough on their plate". Anyone running for a seat on the city council has to know that it’s not just about the time spent in the election campaign, but about filling the next six years with life. If you include social events at which the presence of the city council members is welcome in their respective places of residence or in the city center, then the time spent per month is 15 to 20 hours, he calculates. The time it takes for a council member to familiarize himself with detailed issues should not be forgotten.
Those who take a stand, take a stand
30 euros flat rate for each city council, committee and faction meeting. "Nobody does it for money, says hans josef stich "this is not the motivation for anyone." It’s more about standing up for your homeland and making a difference. It must not be underestimated that city council members are in the public eye and are seen as representatives of the city. "Sometimes you need a thick skin", to be able to cope with the criticism that is made of the council’s decisions. City council members had to be prepared for headwinds, because "he who stands up, stands out"."
"It wasn’t difficult for us to draw up a list", says werner freitag from the staffelsteiner burgern fur umwelt- und naturschutz (SBUN). He adds: "because now everyone is riding the green wave and we are no longer seen as green nutcases." It was easy for him to draw up a list of 30 candidates, such was the popularity and the interest shown. "We have 13 women and 11 men on our list", he continues, because "it can’t be that there are only three women on the staffelstein city council." All candidates on the list are prepared to actually take up the city council mandate if they are elected, says werner freitag. "It’s not just a matter of filling out a list; our candidates really do make themselves available."
"You have to live with cancellations"
"It took us quite a long time to fill up the city council list", confesses holger then. The search for candidates began a good year ago. "You have to ask ten people before someone shows interest", he says. The age of the young citizens is probably the decisive factor, because only women and men under 40 are the focus of attention. "You have to be on the road early and be able to live with cancellations", he describes the search for suitable candidates.
For young burgers, there is a renewal process before every local election, because older elected officials leave at 40 and new ones come in. The interest of young people in taking part in local politics has been stimulated by the "fridays for future"-movement has not increased, says holger then. It was no rougher than in the previous elections.
When putting together the list, the company tried to find candidates from all parts of town and all walks of life. When selecting the candidates, he paid particular attention to ensuring that they included people who were committed to voluntary work. Many came to the young burgers via the young union. Of the 24 candidates, only four are women "but we have three women on the top nine lists", says holger then.
"The auand is not insignificant", says dieter leicht (SPD), because when potential candidates are approached, they are often turned down. "We have not brought together 24 candidates", he declares frankly. The current state of the SPD at the federal level contributed to this, as did the fact that bad staffelstein is located in a very conservative part of the district. The SPD is running 14 candidates in the city council elections. "Our list is an open list, you don’t have to be a member to run for office," he continues, he continues. In the elections of the past few years, the SPD has suffered severe setbacks – and this is reflected in the search for candidates: "until we had 14 together, we fought for three quarters of a year."
You should be well prepared
Many simply lack the courage to stand for election and participate in the city council. As a town councilor, you need a certain amount of courage to stand by your decisions. The important thing, of course, is the support of the family. In addition, a city councilor has to familiarize himself with the issues at hand and prepare for the meetings – fewer and fewer of the people who seem suitable for working in a parliamentary group have the time to do so. Many who were approached had asked what kind of time constraints they could face with this office. When they found out, they refused: "that’s too much for me, isn’t it?."
Afd runs with four men
On wednesday, the afd submitted a list for bad staffelstein to the city council. The names of four men are on it, says afd district deputy chairwoman heike kunzelmann. "It was difficult overall to encourage our members to stand for election to the city council.", she explains, because the social and societal pressure is very rough. Because potential candidates got into trouble with friends and relatives or feared professional disadvantages on the part of their employers, they did not stand for election or withdrew their commitment, says heike kunzelmann.