Last October many new councillors were elected across the canton. How are they faring after 100 days? Zuger Zeitung journalist Vanessa Varisco spoke to four of them, namely Drin Alaj of the SP party in Cham, Herbert Keiser, who has no affiliation to any one particular party, of Menzingen, Christoph Zumbühl of the Green Party of Steinhausen and René Peyer of the FDP party of Walchwil.
For his part Peyer (with the red tie), who is responsible for planning matters in Walchwil, said it had not been too difficult for him, perhaps because he had taken over responsibility for the department he had wanted, and had a most supportive staff, the retiring councillors also being most helpful.
For Alaj (in the blue tie), the experience was similar, reporting he was able to look back with great joy over many an exciting moment, the newly elected councillors all working well together. It was at a recent fair event that he also enjoyed most favourable feedback from locals.
For Zumbühl (in the white background), the start was more of a challenge, especially with all the documentation he had had to wade through and appear at public engagements planned prior to his election. What he does like is being greeted on the street with a “Good morning, Councillor.” One event he particularly enjoyed was the reception for newly arrived residents, with its lack of formality, enabling him to meet a lot of people.
As for Keiser (in an open shirt), he said he felt a bit like a new apprentice, staring initially at everything agape, yet with the firm intention of getting a good grade after four years. “The first hundred days have gone very quickly,” he said. “I have been challenged, but this is what I was looking for.” Having worked in administration for 15 years, what was good for him was that he was already familiar with the various procedures. “What is important to me is listening to people’s concerns and finding a solution together with them,” he said. In having no particular affiliation to any established political party, he can make decisions independently without having to consult others and pursue a party line.
For Peyer, one of the most difficult aspects was not being able to come to a decision alone. As a lawyer, he is used to representing the interests of a sole client, whereas as a councillor he has to represent the views of a wide variety of people. However, he regards such challenges as “salt in the soup”.
In being responsible for traffic and security, Alaj has many plates to keep spinning and some of the topics he has to deal with require detailed knowledge.
Zumbühl noticed how much aggression there was, particularly on the part of the public, many of them being very direct, expecting him to have developed a thick skin. Neither is he one for political manoeuvring, preferring to declare his opinion at the outset.
Keiser noted what egoism there was in today’s society. He feels one solution is communication. At least with his many contacts he feels he knows what is going on in the community.
While these four councillors may be new to the job, they do have the support of those with longer experience who can advise them. Peyer felt this was particularly so in his case, enjoying a beer with other councillors after a meeting, for example. Alaj, too, commented on the openness of discussions in Cham, “debating until a solution is found”.
Zumbühl, too, felt he had great support of his councillor colleagues, not least with their open-door policy. Keiser also mentioned how he got on well with his new colleagues and praised the quality of debate. “What is important is not being afraid to ask questions,” he concluded.