100 year old German woman stands for council election to reopen local swimming pool
London, April 14, 2019 (AltAfrica)-A former schoolteacher Lisel Heise who has been very passionate and has long campaigned for the reopening of the swimming pool in her home town of Kirchheimbolanden is standing for council election.
After celebrating her 100th birthday, Lisel Heise is aiming for a seat on the local council to primarily actualise her campaign over the swimming pool
At a time when most people would be taking it easy, the former sports teacher is running for election in the council in her home town of Kirchheimbolanden, in southwestern Germany.
Born shortly after World War One, Heise is channeling her passion into local politics — in particular her campaign to have the town’s outdoor swimming pool reopened.
Heise made her decision to stand after she was approached by the local grassroots group “Wir für Kibo” (roughly, “We for Kirchheimbolanden”) — which is demanding greater transparency and public involvement in local politics.
Group leader Thomas Bock hopes that Heise’s popularity can help the group improve on its one seat out of 24 on the town council.
“Frau Heise is so well-known in Kirchheimbolanden,” Bock told DW. “Almost everyone over 40 had her as a teacher in the school. It could be that she finishes well ahead of anyone else.”
“She is still very involved with the school. Even though she’s not been a teacher for the last 40 years. She takes part whenever there’s some king of event in the school, for instance, on school leavers’ day when the youngsters leave the school. She’ll often grab a microphone and say a few words, which is really important for them.”
‘Good things are disappearing’
Heise is hoping to have her voice heard after years of feeling ignored by local officials. She describes the way the microphone was taken away from her at public meetings whenever she mentioned the pool.
The ballot is on May 26, with some 8,000 people eligible to vote in the town of Kirchheimbolanden
“Now that I’m 100, I’m in a different position,” Heise told the Reuters news agency. “Now I have the chance to open my mouth and say something.”
“I want to go into politics so that I can finally do something for young people. All the good things for them are disappearing: the swimming pools are closing and they have nowhere nice to go and spend time together outside school.”
She describes the pool — which closed in 2011 — as a children’s paradise that the town should never have let go. The only other pool locally is an indoor one, which closes for the summer.
“It’s a huge mistake that it’s been turned into a pile of rubble. My former students are always saying to me that they should reopen it for the children again.”
As for her wider political views, Heise is pro-European and thinks environmental concerns should be taken more seriously.
“Brexit should never have been given a platform. And I find it splendid that young people are trying to tackle climate issues. One can only wish them every success in that venture.”
Family history of being outspoken
With her candidature, Heise is following in the footsteps of her father who was a member of the council before World War Two. He was jailed for four weeks after criticizing the destruction of synagogues by the Nazi regime.
The actual idea of standing as a councilor didn’t come from Heise, says Bock. It came from her son.
“He said ‘ask my mother,’ she’s be happy to do something but she’s too wary. Then we asked her and it was clear. We said, of course put yourself forward as a candidate.”
Heise is so popular in the town that hundreds of former and present pupils visited her house to sing a song on the occasion of her 100th birthday.
“She gets on very well with people,” Bock added. “She’s good at speaking to people and is generally very well-liked. We can use this popularity at the election, and now she will be heard.” DW