Karl Schleich in front of the plans for the Schnitzerstadel – one of the "giant projects" of the municipality. © Theresa Kuchler
Karl Schleich has been mayor of Bernbeuren for about three years. In this interview, he takes stock of the first half of his term in office and talks about how his life has changed since the election.
Bernbeuren – May 1 was half-time: the mayors have been in office for three years now, and three more years lie ahead of them. We wanted to know from the town hall chiefs, who were elected to office for the first time in 2020, how they have settled in, what experiences they have had and what has changed in their private lives. Today Karl Schleich (Bernbeuren).
Mr. Schleich, why did you want to become mayor of Bernbeuren?
In Bernbeuren, there were and still are many problems that I wanted to tackle. On the one hand, the rehabilitation of the drinking water supply was urgently needed. As is well known, the water had to be chlorinated at that time because the quality was no longer in order. And then there's the topic of carving barns.
Do you have the impression that you have made progress here?
Yes in any case. The rehabilitation of the drinking water supply is going well, even if we are not as far along as we should be. The schedule has been delayed because the Ukraine war has led to supply bottlenecks. But the chlorination could be stopped promptly thanks to our immediate measures, and since then the water quality has been good. The technology of the plant is currently being renovated. It has reached its useful life for years and urgently needed to be renovated. In principle, we can be glad that it went well for so long.
And when it comes to Schnitzerstadel?
There, too, a lot has happened – faster than expected, to be honest. This is a huge project. Things have been progressing well since the State Office for the Preservation of Monuments approached the municipality together with the responsible planner and we took care of the matter together. We were able to generate funding and find an operator for the local supplier, which plans to open between summer and autumn 2025.
So that's what you would count as your successes. What, on the other hand, didn't go so well?
What could have developed more quickly is the construction area on Pfeifferstraße. This drags on for a very long time. Various factors are decisive: on the one hand, Corona. You have to keep in mind that the entire term of office was marked by Corona. This has incredibly delayed the procedural processes – both for the offices and for all the specialist planners. Someone was constantly in quarantine, so things were left lying around, or people were so overloaded that it all took longer.
You and your counterparts did not have an easy start with Corona.
Yes that's true. Looking back, it is often forgotten that everything in the past two and a half years has been shaped by the pandemic. Basically, we got through it well. On the other hand, there are now supply bottlenecks and cost increases that have developed since the outbreak of the Ukraine war and are slowing down some projects.
So one crisis has been replaced by the next?
Crisis is the normal state of affairs for me and everyone else who has been in office for three years. We don't know any other way.
How has your personal life changed since you became mayor?
That has changed a lot, because I don't really have a private life anymore (laughs).
So you're on duty 24 hours a day?
In principle, yes. There are big tasks to overcome, and there is always something new that needs to be worked through. Things that have not been done optimally in the past or that have been left behind for some reason. This pops up bit by bit and has to be worked on.
How much time do you spend at City Hall?
It's hard to say. I'm there every day from morning to night, plus the outside and evening appointments, even on weekends. Here in Bernbeuren, there is a special situation with the "Auerbergland" community network. The mayor of Bernbeuren is automatically the chairman. In addition, there are all the committees: Wastewater Association, Pfaffenwinkel Tourism Association, etc. – in total, simply a thousand things that you don't even think about before you run for such an office.
What does your family say when you are so little at home?
My children are both out of the house. I couldn't imagine the office at all if I had smaller children. This would inevitably mean that someone would be neglected in the family. But my children are both studying and training and have already moved out. So now is the ideal time to hold such an office.
Do you want to run again in three years?
I'll decide when the time comes. At the moment I'm not worried about it.