Mr. Wagner, was there a day in your first year in office when you regretted that you were elected mayor of the city?
Lutz Wagner: Not for a whole day (smiles).
First of all: the bottom line is that I am absolutely happy to have taken this step. I really enjoy this job and I’m grateful that I can do it.
Now comes a but?
But there are situations in which decisions have to be made – especially those of a personal nature – that are not always pleasant and easy. On the one hand, this is new to me, but it is also difficult sometimes. Especially when it comes to assessing people or promotions or – there was also this case once – that I have to fire someone I have not yet met. However, I have the right to make decisions on a well-founded basis and try to work out the best possible basis for decision-making.
Were there any events that you remember particularly positively?
The signing of the level crossing agreement was very positive for me …
… the basis is for the construction of the railway underpass on Drachenfelsstrasse, which everyone expects to provide a boost for the development of the old town …
… and the decision on the swamp path was very gratifying for me, even if the bottom line was that it was a difficult decision. With the council resolution (to repeal the development plan; d. Ed.) We ended a tough topic that went on for years. That was a good day for climate change adaptation. From my point of view, a milestone is the establishment of the office for citizen participation, because that is the prerequisite for us to be able to gradually develop and expand voluntary citizen participation.
In your opinion, how does the cooperation with “your” coalition of KöWI, SPD and Greens work?
This is a very good, trusting and, I think, very constructive collaboration. But I am also looking for an exchange with the other groups …
… the initial sharpness on the part of the opposition seems to be out?
That’s so. And I think that is very good and very important for the cooperation in the Council, because we have very, very important issues to deal with. Like climate protection. I really hope that we can decide on this issue with broad consensus.
After your election, you demanded loyalty from the city administration, of which you have been the boss for a year. Did you find out?
Yes. In fact, a lot more has been brought to me. I get very, very good support from many sides on topics that are important to me.
Because of Corona, you could not maintain as many citizen contacts as a new mayor would normally have. Are there any plans to catch up on that?
Definitive. I offer a digital citizen consultation and hope that I can compensate a little for the missing contacts. And I hope that next spring we will be over the dam as far as the pandemic situation is concerned. As in the election campaign, I am planning a “Tour de Königswinter”, during which I go with the administration to the districts.
First and foremost, I thought of the many events – from village festivals to fairgrounds – that could not take place.
Unfortunately, that all fell flat. I regret that very much, especially for the clubs. But it is all the more gratifying that carnival events can now take place again. Nonetheless, we should all continue to be careful.
From looking back to looking ahead: Is the topic of climate protection now at the top of the list?
That is certainly the main theme for the development of our city for at least two decades. As a municipality, we have certain fields of action in which we make our contribution. Königswinter wants – at least according to the proposed resolution for the special meeting of the climate committee and the council – to strive for climate neutrality from 2035.
Instead of the previous 2050.
I once suggested this number myself because there was no number on the agenda and the year 2050 was also given at international level at that time. That has long since become obsolete, not least because of the ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court.
Is climate neutrality in 2035 really realistic for the entire city of Königswinter?
That is a lofty, highly athletic goal. But it would be wrong to adjust the goals now so that you can lean back again. We have to put the priorities and financial resources very clearly on climate protection.
According to the key objectives, most of the traffic in Königswinter is to be handled by pedestrians, cyclists and buses by 2035. Is that really feasible in a municipality like Königswinter with what feels like 80 villages?
“These are absolutely sporting goals”
It is perfectly clear that pedestrian and bicycle traffic and local public transport cannot completely replace the car, but these modes of transport will get a higher share in the modal split, and we have to represent motorized individual transport as far as possible with electric or hydrogen cars. Again, these are absolutely sporting goals, and if we achieve them two or three years later, that’s still good.
For the city administration itself, should the goal of climate neutrality even be achieved by 2030?
When it comes to climate protection, we depend on the federal, state and European governments, who have to put in place the corresponding guard rails. However, we have to create the appropriate offer on site, where we are responsible at the local level. Take the building sector, for example: we have leased three town halls in need of renovation and a number of them. And now I’m leaning out of the window: If we as the administration want to achieve our target of 2030, then we cannot avoid building a new, ultra-modern and climate-neutral town hall.
Years ago, the idea of a central town hall sparked a heated argument in Koenigswinter, you were one of the skeptics.
Today we have different framework conditions, for example with regard to the options for selling the existing properties. I was also skeptical from an economic point of view. But as a member of the council, I was not so aware of the tight conditions under which my colleagues here in administration sometimes have to work. And the administration continues to grow. We need more space!
“Town hall belongs in the district, not on its edge”
And where should the central town hall go?
I will not commit myself to any location now. However, I am firmly convinced that it should be in one of the two medium-sized centers – in Oberpleis or in the old town. For me, a town hall belongs in the district and not on its edge.
Source: Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger – Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger by www.ksta.de.
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