When Karl Kobelt said yes to an interview, I was surprised, for the obvious reasons, but mostly impressed. Engaging with the new blog of the canton shows an open-minded, modern and confident leader. The chat, we had in his office, confirmed all this. And some more. We both have something in common: he is new in the post of the Zug mayor and I am new in town. So this was the basis of this interview. I am a new resident in Zug and I’d love to know more about him, the new mayor, and his plans for our city.
What are your top 3 priorities? I know it is early, since you just took over, but would you like to share a preview?
The revision of the building regulations and zone regulations until 2025. This major plan creates the basis for living and working in this city for the next 20 years or so, and furthermore, for further economic development. At the same time, it serves to protect the structural and natural qualities of the city – such as the old town and the intact local recreation area – for example on the lakeshore and Zugerberg.
The traffic has to be optimized. All means of traffic should be managed skillfully. It remains to be seen whether a slimmed-down city tunnel variant will be an option.
To continue to invest in our location – and at the same time to keep our finances healthy. This is question of energy – and balance.
What is the one thing you want to change during your mayorship?
This question provokes a counter-question in me: Do we really have to change much? If we succeed in maintaining Zug’s leading position in the two core areas – quality of life and attractiveness as a business and industrial location – a great deal will already have been achieved.
Karl Kobelt is not new in the Zug administration, nor in running a big ship. He was already the Head of Finance for the City of Zug and previously Head of Marketing & Communications in the private sector for Pharma and Marketing firms (you can find more here). The way he presents and explains the city projects, points to his expertise of managing financials, organizations and… politics. This last bit, I totally forgot during our discussion – that he is a politician. And I liked that, because I don’t know how to interview a politician. I do know though how to converse with the person who works on making my life easier and more pleasant in the city where I live.
The job of the mayor of Zug, how challenging is it versus previous posts you had in your career?
The task is challenging – but also fulfilling. I see the greatest challenge in carefully addressing the many so-caned small questions in everyday’s life, and at the same time driving forward the strategic projects the City Council College of all consistency. Acting in this field of tension is not always easy.
Why do you think people elected you for this critical post?
This question should actually be asked to the population. If I have to give an answer here, then it could be the following: Perhaps because I am perceived as an integrating person. This also corresponds to my daily demands on myself.
When you were a kid, did you ever think you would become the mayor of your city?
No, one of my previous career aspirations was to become a diplomat or foreign correspondent. World politics and other countries and cultures still fascinate me today.
If there was one thing I could do as a resident of Zug to help you, what would that be? As another Zug resident, not as a blog.
Talking openly to me about your perceptions in Zug.
Balance. I felt he is good at that. Karl Kobelt understands himself the power of a balancing act and he invests in doing it well. Tactical interventions for making a difference today, but also strategic projects for building the future of the city 20 years from now. He talks about a Zug of tradition and character, but also a Zug that is international and at the forefront of global financial and technological developments. A place that is known as a business center, but that also deserves to be a quality tourism destination. The people of Zug: generation after generation of Swiss locals, but also expats who arrived yesterday and might go tomorrow.
What makes Zug special?
The favourable geopolitical location between the centres of Zurich and Lucerne.
The beauties – the old town, the lake shore (which is open to the public, that is a top quality), Zugerberg.
The population, which is characterized by business mindedness and a great openness to people who have moved here; among these I belong myself.
Tell me please about the people of Zug. Let’s say that I am thinking of moving into Zug or that I just moved here. How would you describe the people that I will find here?
Open-minded, interested, possibly a little reserved at the beginning, modest, connected to Zug and the Region.
One could say that there are two big groups in Zug: the locals and the expats. What one group could learn from the other?
The Zug population can use expats to sharpen their awareness of the happy circumstances in which they live. This is not a matter of course.
Expats can learn from the people of Zug how valuable voluntary work is for the general public.
What is a tip or advice you have for newcomers to Zug?
Learn German (Swiss German is not mandatory)! Join a Club!
How many nationalities live in Zug?
He comes across humble, pragmatic and action-oriented. The kind of balanced personality you want leaders, or even better your boss, to have. He listens, but he is clear and concise in making his point. Focused and disciplined in executing the task of the hour, but also enjoying a few laughs on the way.
What are your favorite corners in the city?
The Landsgemeindeplatz as well as the nature, which can be experienced in many places in the city area.
How do you recharge your batteries?
Hiking, doing sports and reading.
Last book you read. Last movie you watched.
Book: “21 Lessons for the 21st Century” by Yuval Noah Harari. Film: “Luther”.
When was your last vacation and where did you go?
I was for three days before Easter in Cademario, a beautiful place in Ticino, at the bottom of Monte Lema.
Do you have instagram, facebook, twitter?
Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin. I don’t use the social media much.
Finally did you listen to my song? What did you think? Good or bad, I don’t mind.
Funny, appropriately critical and at the same time with good intentions.
I’d definitely say that we are in good hands. Life here in Zug is already very good. You know that, Karl Kobelt knows that. The new mayor and his team are working on upgrading an already high level. “We need to continue writing the positive story of this city. Zug can offer to its residents and visitors a fulfilling life 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.” Fulfilling implies diversity and inclusion. Business, public services, sports, nature, arts, shopping, events, nightlife, etc. A quality offering for everybody; locals and expats, commuters and tourists, younger and older. The best time to live in Zug is now!
Thank you, Karl Kobelt and Zug Stadt team for welcoming me to your city and exciting me for what is yet to come.
NB: The answers of this interview were provided in German, the official language of the Canton.
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