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  1. Politics
  2. Mayor’s office
  3. Mayoral candidate at the age of 96

The most beautiful office in the world

He was mayor of Steinach am Brenner for 25 years. Now he wants to be again, more than 30 years after his retirement: Walfried Reimeir is a Tyrolean and currently drives through his village with his rollator. At 96 years. For he does not like the politics of the last years in the place. So the 96 year old is convinced that he himself has to do it again. His issues: The street lighting, which needs to be modernized, especially to become more energy efficient, and the municipal roads, which are in poor condition. And then there were 13 bridges in the village that are in need of repair, as the 96 year old is sure of. And there’s another issue Reimeir told Austrian broadcaster ORF this week is important: "Housing is being built that locals can’t afford." When he himself used to be mayor, he had more than 200 apartments built so that less affluent local citizens could buy housing as property.

From 1959 to 1986 Reimeir was already mayor of the well 3.600 inhabitants-municipality. In 2016, then at the age of 91, he already ran again, but with only 13 percent of the vote he was defeated then by Josef Hautz, who prevailed against 3 candidates with a whopping 76 percent in the first ballot. This time, Reimeir wants to run to get at least one seat in the municipal council election taking place at the same time.

Germany’s oldest mayors

Josef Ruddel no longer has this ambition. Until three years ago, the 97-year-old was Germany’s oldest mayor. At the age of 94, however, he did not run for office in Windhagen in the district of Neuwied. He had found a successor at the end of 2019 in the 4200 inhabitant municipality and handed over his official duties. Ruddel was a trained farmer and worked full-time as a cattle farmer until his retirement.

Incidentally, Ruddel was the second mayor portrayed by KOMMUNAL in 2017. The start of our mayor series, which is being presented today as "Mayor of the Month can be found in every print edition.

Rudel is widowed and has three sons. By the way, one of them was also drawn into politics. Son Erwin Josef Ruddel is now a member of the German Bundestag.

Josef Ruddel – making history

The proportion of women mayors has always been low

Even today, the percentage of women in the office is less than 10 percent, according to recent surveys by KOMMUNAL. Freuen took over quite also in the young Federal Republic already the office. The first woman was elected to office in 1948 – Erika Keck was elected in Ahrensburg in 1948. The town in Schleswig-Holstein has developed magnificently since then. Thus, when Erika Keck took office, the town "only" had 17.000 inhabitants, today there are more than twice as many. Whereby an incorporation in the 60’s on a swing brought about 5000 new inhabitants. By the way, there is still a street named after Erika Keck, she died in 1990 at the age of 90 in Wurselen, NRW.

Three mayors, three concepts for success

An age when Ellen Wisniewski was still acting mayor. To this day, she is considered the "oldest female mayor in Germany. At the age of 90, she was still the mayor of Zauchwitz, by the way, for 40 years. After her resignation as local mayor, she ran again for the city council of Beelitz in Brandenburg at 92 years of age. Naturally successful. In 2020, she passed away at the age of 93.

Bulldog becomes mayor of a US city

THIS is the oldest mayor in the world

Even 93 years are still nothing compared to Vito Perillo. The U.S. World War II veteran was re-elected mayor of Tinton Falls in New Jersey at the end of the year. At the proud age of 97.

"I care for the city and the people who live here with heart and soul", Says Perillo, who left three candidates behind. He is a "late-appointed mayor". For the first time he ran for office in 2017 – then already a proud 93 years and without any political experience. Just by promising to handle public money responsibly and to improve the quality of life in the small town with the 18.000 inhabitants to improve. "He is their hero, the motivation with which he drives to work every day inspires people" his daughter Anna Perillo told the "Washington Post" at the end of the year after her re-election.

This is how much pension a mayor gets in Germany

When the mayor has to step down

But it is not granted to everyone to be allowed to remain mayor of his city up to the high age. Currently, for example, the mayor of Olbernhau is "pissed off", because he is not allowed to run again. At the same time, Heinz-Peter Haustein is only 67 years old. But in Saxony, the municipal code says you can’t run for office again if you’re older than 65. "age discrimination" Haustein calls it, after all, even Wolfgang Schauble was still president of the Bundestag at 79, he says.

And then there were the numerous communities that were forcibly incorporated into the state. Thousands of mayors have lost their jobs or their honorary posts in this way over the decades. But not everywhere. There is a place in Germany that has had no municipal law at all for 500 years – but elects a mayor every year instead. Always on 2. May is the traditional time. And this for over 500 years.

The village is called Schonstheim and is located near Wurzburg. Granted: To "rule" there is not much there, the "municipality" namely consists of a good 300 hectares of forest. Say: the place has not a single citizen, but only trees.

And that is how it came to be: Schonstheim was once a small village with 16 farms. Around 1500, however, the citizens left the village. Today the farms are forest corporations and belong to about 170 landowners. Among them, the village – which officially belongs to the municipality of Rottingen in Lower Franconia – elects a mayor. In the parish hall there is even an own office cupboard. There isn’t even a key for this cupboard, but that’s beside the point, it’s about the symbol. And financially the "municipality Also well equipped – because officially the administration of the forest gets a monthly allowance from the municipality for the "self-administration" – a little more than 38.

And what has the mayor then to do in Schonstheim? 22 hectares of the oak forest belongs to all Schoenstheimers. The respective mayors manage the area. In addition, he distributes the income from the hunting lease and from the sale of wood and settles disputes, if there are any. Classical mayor duties stop.

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