Christian vogel (SPD) has been mayor for two years 2. Mayor in nuremberg and second most powerful man in city hall behind lord mayor ulrich maly (also SPD).
From city councilor to mayor – the trained businessman has had a picture-perfect political career in his home city. However, vogel has many open construction sites in the city. One could be forgiven for thinking that the 46-year-old is emulating the great comrade sigmar gabriel a bit, presenting himself as close to the people but politically hapless. The dispute over the intersection-free expansion of the frankenschnellweg with the bund naturschutz continues to smolder, the leaking pools of the dolphin lagoon in the zoo have not been repaired and a name sponsor for the stadium has still not been found.
In an interview with our newspaper, vogel explains why he and mayor maly have not always seen eye to eye over the past two years and how he wants to quickly clear up the biggest issue – the dispute over the frankenschnellweg expressway.
Mr. Vogel, you have been mayor of nuremberg for two years now and deputy to mayor ulrich maly (SPD). How much did you look forward to the vacation this year?
Christian vogel: it was true that I was a bit vacation-ready. For the first time, I hoped that the vacation would come quickly. Many things simply happened this year. I feel all the more refreshed after my vacation. But I was really looking forward to the free time this year.
Did you underestimate the amount of work and effort that is required in this office when you took office in march 2014??
Christian vogel: definitely yes. I did not expect this flood of appointments to come my way. The variety of tasks – from the municipal zoo to street cleaning and swimming pools – is also enormous. At the same time, I have always said that I want to be a contact person for the citizens. And the citizens really take advantage of this offer. Personally and via social media on the internet, I receive many inquiries every day. This abundance and variety of tasks is sometimes exhausting.
In the last two years, would you have occasionally wished for more public support and more backing from lord mayor maly on difficult issues?
Christian vogel: "we have a very open and cooperative relationship. We are not always in agreement. But this does not have to be the case. But we really are a good team because we complement each other well. I have always received the support I hoped for at the beginning of my term of office. He is interested in my opinion, I am interested in his opinion. It can happen that we have different opinions. But that does not harm the common cause in the end.
Can you give a concrete example of where you and maly disagreed on an important decision??
Christian vogel: you can’t pin that down to one example now. Sometimes we simply have a different assessment or a different approach. For example, I always advocate a lot of public relations work and say that we must inform the citizens comprehensively and in advance. He says, for example, that "facebook" is a "no-go" for him. So we are not at odds with each other on factual issues.
The keyword is major projects: here you have a big mountain of unsolved tasks ahead of you. The biggest chunk is certainly the intersection-free expansion of the frankenschnellweg. How quickly do you need a breakthrough here so that construction work can finally begin, at least until the new elections in four years??
Christian vogel: "we could start tomorrow with the intersection-free expansion. That means the city is ready to act. Unfortunately, for better or worse, we are dependent on the decision of others. I believe that we have done everything we can to get a sensible project off the ground. But the bund naturschutz unfortunately says no on principle for ideological reasons, even though we have proven that they are wrong in their argumentation. Unfortunately, I cannot estimate when the construction work will start. We have to wait and see when the european court of justice decides in favor of or against bavarian road and path law. We have commissioned an environmental impact study so that – whatever europe decides – we could start with the extension.
Recently, you personally negotiated a lot with the bund naturschutz (nature conservation union) about the intersection-free expansion. At times it has been announced in the press that an agreement is close to being reached. What is the current status of the four-eye talks??
Christian vogel: the glass is currently more half-full than half-empty. But we are still a long way from an agreement. Actually, we are in agreement on many issues. However, we are no longer talking so much about the frankenschnellweg; instead, the bund naturschutz is linking this issue to completely different projects. That is the curious thing about these talks. I find this approach neither serious nor good. That’s why I have decided that the outcome of the next round of talks in the fall will determine how things will proceed. We won’t be making any more endless rounds. The citizen also has the right to know how things are going to proceed. And the citizen also needs to know who is delaying the project and possibly even causing it to fail. And that would clearly be the bund naturschutz.
You are the super minister of the city. You have already mentioned the abundance of tasks. Do you sometimes have the feeling that you’ve – pardon the expression – gone down the political toilet when it comes to the allocation of departments, from the municipal zoo to the stadium, the streets and the cleanliness of the entire city??
Christian vogel: I knew beforehand what I was getting into. But I didn’t know that the tasks are so enormously varied. I actually underestimated that a bit. But I like the challenge. And I like the opportunities I have to shape the city. I like that better than sitting at a desk and signing files.
Designing is particularly good when you’re in the boss’s chair. When do you want to be maly’s successor?
Christian vogel: in 2052, perhaps (laughs). No, seriously now. As long as I am mayor, I hope that the mayor’s name will be ulrich maly for as long as possible. And I want to stay in office longer as mayor.
2020 there are the next local elections in nuremberg. Which successes do you want to be able to show then?
Christian vogel: next year will be the halay point in the legislative process. Then I also want to draw a first resume of my first term of office. Before the next elections in 2020, I want people to say about me: "man, he cares about our city. He takes care of us. Even if you don’t always agree. There will always be those who say: man, that bird, what kind of bird is that?? But I would like the majority of people to recognize that I am fully committed to the cause.