The local elections in the district of kulmbach have brought two results that are not commonplace. With karl heinz and beate opel from the wirsberg suburb of neufang and stefan holzheu and birgit thies from harsdorf, two couples were elected to the same body in each case.
In the district council, where cosima and johannes asen (grune) also once sat at the same time, the women’s quota is exactly 22 percent, in the harsdorf municipal council just under eight percent. In the case of the opel couple, wife beate surprisingly came out on top in the ranking of votes cast for the independent candidates. Surprising because husband karl heinz has already been represented in the district council for three election periods. 10770 citizens voted for her, he got 8946 votes.
Beate opel never thought of running for the municipal council or even for the district council. "It’s never been my style to run toward an honorary position." District administrator sollner had them in thurnau at the edge of the competition "our village should become more beautiful" asked. As a county farmer she had been a member of the commission.
Since she was placed fifth on the list, she knew that she had a legitimate chance of being elected to the county council. "I was happy to go on the list because the free voters are close to the people and because they live everything that I live in my honorary office as a district farmer. I did not think that I would achieve such a result."
But beate opel only attended three election meetings, because she did not want to miss out on her voluntary work in adult education: "it was important to me that my countrywomen know that i will stay with them. I did not want to leave the field for which I have fought before." Fifth place was actually intended for her husband, but the heavyweight agricultural master, being a gentleman, gave way to his wife and made do with tenth place.
Beate opel knows that a seat on the district council is not something that can be done in passing: "now I want to fulfill the expectations that people have placed in me."
For karl heinz opel (61) it was no problem to give up his place: "the scramble for the list places is known everywhere, i have been doing it for 18 years already." His wife made the decision to run for the district council all by herself.
The future county councilor wants to focus on agriculture and rural areas. "I am fighting to ensure that we continue to have lively villages where agriculture has its place. But i am also open for other things."
"Plotzlich on place one"
The situation was similar for the holzheu/thies couple in harsdorf, where the husband (47), who is a university lecturer at bayreuth university, had previously represented the SPD in the town council. "It was clear to me that we needed women on the council", says birgit thies (47). "Six years ago, I thought it was a great pity that women who stood for election were simply overtaken by men."
In the SPD, there is a friction lock system in the allocation of the list seats. "Suddenly i was on seat one." Husband stefan holzheu: "the men on our list were of the opinion that it was simply appropriate for a woman to be represented in the municipal council. The place was then also a sign to the voters. For us men, it was no problem at all to forego the top position in favor of a woman." There had even been discussions about whether the first three seats should be filled by women, "but according to the SPD’s guidelines, that was out of the question. Thies is head of the business office at the center for ecology and environmental research at bayreuth university.
She had actually already expected to be elected to the harsdorf town council: "there was also a lot of talk from my environment that this could work out." And the new councillor is self-confident: "i want to make a difference and i also have ideas for things that could be done, even beyond club work." For thies, this includes the demands of the village community with the involvement of the new burghers. "We have to work towards getting more people involved in this area again. It’s a serious shortage of young people everywhere." The energy transition is also an important task for her.
There is a reason why the two of them were almost tied for first and second place: "we are known as a team that can take on responsibility together." And. Stefan holzheu adds with a smile, "with the two of us, we almost have the majority in the city council." Holzheu wanted "us to finally take the important steps to move away from this CO2 economy toward a sustainable energy supply. The municipalities also have a responsibility in this respect."