Bonn Ashok Sridharan is Mayor of Bonn until Sunday. In an interview with GA, he explains why he feels it is inappropriate to give advice to his successor Katja Dörner and whether he wants to stay out of local politics in the future.
Ashok Sridharan was the Mayor of Bonn for five years. This Sunday, Katja Dörner (Green party) takes his place. Here is our interview with the outgoing mayor.
What is your emotional state?
Ashok Sridharan: I must honestly say that this week is very emotional for me. I enjoyed being the mayor of our beautiful city of Bonn, and still do. I have enjoyed the contact with the people, with my colleagues. As I said, it is very emotional to have to say goodbye to everyone now. I admit that there are a few tears here and there.
What will be your last official act?
Sridharan: I actually have an official last appointment on Friday afternoon. I will deliver flowers and congratulations to a couple on their golden wedding anniversary.
As mayor, what tasks did you like to perform, and which ones less so?
Sridharan: I was always very touched by how many people came to me with personal concerns. They showed me that they had great trust in me as mayor, because they often had very private concerns. Of course, there are things that one does not like to do, but that was rather the exception.
Sridharan: For example, when I was confronted with things that did not correspond to the facts. But I don't want to talk about them now in retrospect, I don't want to press on with that. That's why I don't want to draw conclusions about my work anymore. This has been done sufficiently in the last months.
After losing the election, were there any reactions you received that you were happy about? Or that irritated you?
Sridharan: I have received many friendly and encouraging letters, some from people I did not expect. For example from Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. Cardinal Woelki also sent me a very personal letter. I was disappointed that some did not react at all, those from whom I had actually expected it.
Do you regret that you can no longer do things that were particularly important to you?
Sridharan: Yes. We prepared for many different topics/issues in order to have a foundation to go on. I would like to mention the school development plan that was initiated and, of course, the sport development plan that is now to be implemented.
How do you assess the current proposal to relocate the city museum to the Karstadt building?
Sridharan: Please understand that I no longer wish to comment officially on current municipal policy matters. This also applies to the future.
How are you preparing to hand over the office to Katja Dörner?
Sridharan: I met with Ms. Dörner immediately after the election. We will meet again this Friday to discuss a few more things and to arrange the handover.
Does it also include secret files stored in the safe of the mayor?
Sridharan (laughs): No, there are no such things. All the files that are kept are in the hands of the responsible staff of the mayor's office.
What advice do you have for Mrs. Dörner?
Sridharan: None. I do not think it is appropriate. She is an experienced politician. Advice or recommendations from my side I think are out of place.
What will you miss most?
Sridharan: The contacts to the people in Bonn, and my colleagues.
It is said that you have received a job offer from the UN?
Sridharan: There have never, at any time, been any talks between me and the UN about a job. I do not know where the rumor comes from. As Mayor of Bonn, I have always maintained good and close contacts with the UN and supported its work. I find this absolutely important for the UN city of the Federal Republic of Germany.
What are your plans for the future?
Sridharan: As a civil servant, I now receive a pension. But it is not yet the pension received by those who are retired and have worked until the age of 65 or longer. So of course I will look for a new job. But it must be the right one and should not demand 80 or more hours per week again. I am already holding talks in several directions. In November and December I will definitely not take up any new activities, I first want to spend time with my family.
You moved from Bornheim to Röttgen in 2015 after your election as mayor. Will you stay in Bonn?
Sridharan: For the time being, definitely, and even if my path takes me and my wife somewhere else in the future, we will keep a foothold here.
(Orig. text: Lisa Inhoffen;Translation: ck)