We asked, they answered. Now we have to vote.

With less than a week to go until voters decide on who they want to be the Mayor in Oberursel, it’s time to start making up my mind who I want to vote for.

Let’s start by looking at those questions that we asked last week.

Five of the questions dealt with things that foreigners in Oberursel affect directly.

The idea of the welcome meeting is something that both candidates would consider doing, and both like the idea of providing more information to new residents.  I see little difference here.  It’s different with the other four.

Thorsten Schorr ruled out a culture festival and also introducing an integration report, citing in both cases how he would use existing clubs and societies in the town to integrate foreigners better when they arrive.  Hans-Georg Brum (SPD) would follow up on both, providing sufficient funds can be allocated.

On the subject of languages and communications, neither rule anything out, but Hans-Georg Brum is less committed to a particular solution and prefers to decide things on a case-by-case basis.  Thorsten Schorr is very direct that he would introduce a language policy and also has more detailed ideas of how to communicate with foreigners in the town.

Their approaches to the Ausländerbeirat are different.  Thorsten Schorr would involve the Ausländerbeirat more in some of these points, Hans-Georg Brum is perhaps more realistic and has openly stated that the committee needs more support from the town hall.  It would certainly need to be more efficient if it is to help Thorsten Schorr put his plans into action.

Which, if you are an EU citizen reading this, sort of means that depending on your own opinion on these subjects it could be 3:3 between them at the moment.

So we may need to look at other issues that have dominated the election campaign.  Let’s start in Bommersheim (German readers are no doubt groaning at this point).  The election campaign really kicked off when Thorsten Schorr said that he would not be building on the area known as South Bommersheim (“Bommersheim Süd”).  This led to discussions on what Hans-Georg Brum had said when and where as to his plans to build in the near or not so near future.  The whole things was made more complicated by his party (SPD) having different statements on their website to his and their parliamentary group sending out a press release in the middle of it all about building in Bommersheim, albeit it not on the same piece of land.

However attempts by the CDU to have Bommersheim Süd blocked for building in future in the town council did not receive the support it might have done, and ironically when the Green party tried to have another piece of land blocked for future building the CDU did not support them, even if their candidate did.

Whilst on the subject of building projects, the CDU have been critical of many new buildings erected in previous years during Hans-Georg Brum’s time as Mayor.  The SPD likes to point out that the CDU support many of these projects, and were often only critical of small parts of them.  In the last three years when I have visited the town council, I have watched both parties support building on the swimming pool car park, the Altkönig sports field, and more recently they both approved plans to build on the Rompel car park in the middle of the town, knocking down the historic (but not listed) building in the Vorstadt in the process.  They also both approved the building on a green field site in the St.Hedwigs-Weg.  The CDU say they want more green areas in the town and less of the “block” type of building, but in weighing this up against other needs such as financing the swimming pool they are in a difficult situation.  At least by voting against the last two examples a few weeks ago they would have shown that they are serious about this change of heart.  The SPD may be no better on these points, on the contrary, they are actively advertising on billboards with photos of these projects!

Both candidates suddenly discovered Facebook as a way of communicating with voters when their campaigns started.  Both have personal profiles and official pages, both discuss so different extents in the forums and in BrunnenTreff.

They would have been well advised to discuss a lot more of topics with their potential voters, rather than posting photos each week of where they have been.

Just recently two other campaigns on Facebook have caught my attention, both of them by the CDU.

Thorsten Schorr (CDU)

Thorsten Schorr (CDU)

Firstly there was the “thumbs up” campaign with supports posting photos of themselves with Thorsten Schorr (or a poster with his photo on) and their thumbs up.  A good idea, but I see so many of these photos each day – sometimes repeated by people sharing them – that it’s beginning to get a bit tiring.

Still, that is nothing compared to the “That can be done better, Mr. Brum” campaign, where Facebook users who are in some way connected to the CDU post photos of something in the town, with a big sign next to it pointed to the item concerned.  “Das geht besser, Herr Brum!” it says on the sign.

I question whether the state of one of the cemeteries was a good idea for this topic in the first place, but if one delves into the problem a little further, the idea may actually backfire.  You see, there was a committee to look into the state of the cemeteries and other issues there, such as how to make savings.  It was chaired by a member of the SPD, but his vice-chairman was from the CDU.

Similarly highlighting the state of one of the fountains is also not as wise as it may seem, since the fountains are connected to the committee that organises the fountain festival, whose vice-chairwoman happens also to be a member of the town council for the CDU.  Even one of the companies who looks after the fountains in the town is owned by a CDU member.  And in Facebook, people are starting to ask if there are not more important issues.

Hans-Georg Brum (SPD)

Hans-Georg Brum (SPD)

Hans-Georg Brum on the other hand has been criticised for not having the party logo on his posters.  Indeed, it took the SPD a lot longer than the CDU to put up a poster for the election on their notice board next to the town hall.  One argument has been that he does not want to ‘just’ be an SPD Mayor, but a Mayor for everyone in the town.  That sounds good, but closer inspection of his homepage reveal that there are items such as building in Bommersheim, where his page does not have the same policy as his party does.

This does, of course, leave him a way out if he cannot implement his policies later should his own party vote against them.  It’s something that happened to Thorsten Schorr a couple of years ago, when he recommended not to build the swimming pool on financial grounds, and the CDU voted to do so anyway.

And then there are those in the town who would normally vote for the Green party, the OBG, the FDP and the Linke.  None of these are even fielding candidates for the election, so which way are they going to sway?  Some FDP members have openly declared their support for Thorsten Schorr.  The Green party have not officially backed either candidate, but they are more openly critical of Thorsten Schorr’s policies than they are of Hans-Georg Brum’s.

For the rest of us it’s a difficult decision to make.  And we only have just over 100 hours left to decide.


About Graham Tappenden

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Oberursel in 1993 and returned with his family to live there in 2003. He has been writing for AllThingsGerman.net since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.

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