In Basel, general elections for the cantonal parliament and government are scheduled for October. The election campaign has barely begun, but candidates in all parties are busy getting their photos taken by professional advertisers. The parties have concepts for the election campaign, and the candidates are also looking for their own way, collecting addresses, preparing for events, planning street campaigns, booking billboards and much more.

One of the candidates is Marcel Rünzi. He is of retirement age and is running for election to the Grand Council. Why? But let's let him speak for himself.

Dear Mr Rünzi, you are very fit and cheerful! How old are you?

I am 78 years old.

What kind of professional career have you had?

At the age of 16, I started an apprenticeship as a reinforced concrete draftsman in an engineering office and completed it after 3 years.

I was involved in the planning and construction supervision of numerous road, bridge and building projects in the region and in central Switzerland in offices in Pratteln and Zofingen.

In 1968, I took a job in the civil engineering department with the intention of getting to know the cantonal administration and then returning to the private sector. But it turned into a lifelong position in various positions in the canton. After various engagements in road construction, I was given the coordination position for pipe laying. My job was to act as a link between the civil engineering department and the cantonal and federal offices involved (Industrial Works, Water Protection Office, PTT) and the commissioned engineering firms, coordinating the projects.

In particular, it concerned large-scale projects such as the construction of national roads and major road and engineering structures in the canton. As representatives of the civil engineering office in the Pro Rheno project group responsible for the supply and drainage lines to the Basel wastewater treatment plant, we accompanied the projects, which cost three million euros, together with representatives of the Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft water protection authorities and the chemical companies Ciba-Geigy and F. Hoffmann - La Roche. The Basel wastewater treatment plant was put into operation in 1982.

With a focus on accessible pipeline tunnels, I was also active at the federal level in the development of standards.

At the beginning of the 1990s, I was elected head of the land valuation office and member of the valuation committee and began to work in a new area of responsibility. In this position, property owners from the private and public sectors could obtain advice on property values and have their properties valued. Part of the task was also to calculate the value-added tax, which was still little known in Switzerland, in accordance with the Federal Law on Spatial Planning and cantonal legal requirements.

I retired in 2004, but continued to work for some time as a member of the evaluation committee and as an independent consultant.

What appeals to you about standing as a candidate for the Grand Council elections?

I have always been interested in helping to shape the politics of our canton. I thought long and hard about standing for election again at my age. I was convinced that age alone was no reason not to stand, especially since I have been politically active since my youth and am still actively involved in Greater Basel West, with letters to the editor and commitment to individual projects such as the preservation of the Lysbüchel area, which is close to my heart, for commercial use (where the sovereign then decided on a mixed residential/commercial use).

Since I follow political events closely on a daily basis, I could well imagine becoming involved in the Grand Council again.

Is election campaigning actually fun?

I have always enjoyed election campaigns. Appearing together with candidates on the street and at events allows us to understand and even experience the needs and concerns of the population.

Have you ever held a parliamentary office? And if so, what did you like about it?

For many years I was a member of the Citizens' Community Council, the parliament of the Citizens' Community of Basel. As a parliamentarian and as president of the Citizens' Hospital Commission, I got to know and appreciate parliamentary work.

I was a member of the Grand Council between 2003 and 2008. As a member of the Building and Art Committee and the Audit Committee, I experienced politics from the perspective of the cantonal parliament. A lively time with interesting challenges and positive experiences.

Can you recommend that senior citizens take an interest in political office, or even run for office? If so, why? And if not, why not?

For me, there is no universally valid answer. I would only approach women and men who I am convinced have the political fire sacred inside them, who express an interest in the office and who would also be willing to get involved.

In your opinion, what skills are needed to be a good politician?

Having a clear point of view of your own and standing up for it. The ability to work in a team and enjoying parliamentary work. It is advantageous to be integrated into society and also committed. And anyone who has already proven themselves professionally and on a voluntary basis has good prerequisites for the task.

Do you have time for hobbies besides your political involvement in the party?

Most of my time is currently taken up by commitments to non-profit organizations (NPOs). I also find plenty of time for sports (hiking, cycling, golf) and for cultural activities.

Do you know the Seniors@Work platform?

No, but I'm excited to get to know her.

What would you like to say to the readers of the Seniors@Work blog?

Get involved in political and social activities according to your ability and taste. Our society relies heavily on volunteer work, which can and usually does enrich society and all volunteers.

Dear Marcel Rünzi, thank you very much for your open words. We keep our fingers crossed for a successful election campaign and wish you success, satisfaction, happiness and, above all, health.

Beatrice Isler

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