- March 13, 2019
Debates of candidates for the mayor of the Vilnius region without Rekść
Lack of asphalt on roads, Lithuanian-speaking groups in kindergartens and reduced income tax (GPM) – these are the biggest problems for residents of Vilnius region. On Monday, in the Multifunctional Cultural Centre in Niemenczyn there were held debates of candidates for mayor of the Vilnius region, organized by the representatives of the citizens’ initiative “Žinau, ką renku” (Eng. “I know for whom I vote”).
The debates were attended by Robert Duchniewicz from The Social Democratic Party of Lithuania, Gediminas Kazėnas from The Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, Aleksandra Minajeva from The Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union and Tadeusz Orszewski from The Labour Party. The current mayor Maria Rekść from the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance, which confirmed her participation earlier, informed today that she is ill. The debates were moderated by Aleksandra Ketlerienė, deputy editor-in-chief of lrt.lt.
The participants of the meeting talked about themselves and presented the most pressing problems in the Vilnius region. Most of the problematic issues concerned infrastructure, lack of places in Lithuanian-speaking groups in kindergartens, reluctance of residents to register, and thus the reduced GPM.
“A big problem is the registration of the region’s inhabitants. We must encourage them to declare their place of residence in the Vilnius region, then the budget income will be higher” – said Minajeva. She added that her electoral programme assumes the abandonment of some larger, unnecessary – in her opinion – local government projects in favour of building educational institutions.
“This is a catastrophe. Parents cannot go back to work because they have no one to leave their children with. In the area of Suderwie, Czekoniszek, Rostynian there are almost 1 thousand children who do not have a place in a kindergarten” – riposted Kazėnas. He pointed out that the EAPL-CFA, which has been in power for many years, aims on worsening Polish-Lithuanian relations.
A candidate from the Labour Party’s list, Orszewski, agreed with the Kazėnas. As he said, “the main problem of the region is abnormal relations. The current division of nationalities is not good”.
From the room fell a digression from a resident who has been living in the Vilnius region for 40 years. “So far, society has not been in a such conflict. When Tomaszewski pinned the ribbon of St. George, even Poland turned away from him. Nowhere in any country, the metropolitan area is so neglected” – said the inhabitant.
Many people came to directly ask the mayor of the region about the increasingly expensive heating, lack of roads and lack of places in kindergartens in Lithuanian-speaking groups. The issues of nepotism in administrative structures and the renovation of the blocks were raised.
In his speech, Duchniewicz stressed that the local government authorities do not take care of the infrastructure, as currently there are only a few roads in the region’s register. This makes it impossible for local government officials to apply for grants because roads do not exist legally.
Robert Komarowski, vice-mayor of the region, was present at debate, said that the local government spends 3 million euro annually on road repair works and the prices of heating are set by the Price Commission.
The moderator of the debates reminded that currently Rekść’s remuneration is the highest in the whole country, taking into account the payments of other local government leaders. She asked the candidates if they would receive this amount. “It would be unfair to the residents and employees dependent on the local government – teachers and others” – said Duchniewicz.
Minajeva stated that both the mayor’s remuneration and the number of employees should be reduced. Currently, the administration employs many people and the offices are empty. Nobody can be asked for anything” said the candidate.
All candidates, when making their election promises, agreed that they would give priority to education, road quality and infrastructure development, as well as encouraging residents to register in the Vilnius area.
Translated by Dominika Kownacka within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.