Csaba Balogh: If mayors open to the public, this will raise the trust in the whole government
Interview with Csaba Balogh, Mayor of Göd, Hungary
- torsdag d. 22. oktober 2020, 11.30
- Aseniya Dimitrova
Göd is a Hungarian town of 21 thousand inhabitants, located in the county of Pest. Due to its location close to Budapest, it is sometimes referred to as a dormitory town. However, Göd has made a name of its own thanks to its year-round spa tourism opportunities.
Csaba Balogh won the mayoral elections in 2019 as a joint oppositional candidate. He graduated from Budapest Metropolitan University in 2014 and went on to work in the private sector, in the field of sales, where he quickly rose in the rank, achieving leadership positions.
The five kilometres long bank of the Danube stands out in the rich in greenery landscape of the Hungarian town of Göd. Photo: Municipality of Göd
Mr Balogh, would you present the town of Göd to our audience? Which are your favourite places?
Göd is the first really green town in the agglomeration of Budapest to the North. If you follow the Danube on the east coast, you will find some wonderful weekend houses among the 100-year-old trees, and a bit further from the sandy beaches, a friendly mineral spa is inviting you to relax. But my favourite part is somewhere in the middle, our ‘Central Park’, the abandoned golf park where nature has gone wild again in a good way, and it became a perfect place for long walks, running and picnics.
The town is a year-round tourist destination, famous for its spas and mineral waters. What has been the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the local tourist sector and economy so far?
We have some touching videos showing empty streets during the pandemic, and the spa suffered it the most. But even at that time we had hundreds of tourists along the Danube, camping or just spending the day on the sandy beaches. Thus, the restaurants with terraces could still provide services as much as anyone could.
Was the municipality able to do something to support the businesses in this difficult situation?
The municipalities had difficulties too during the pandemic, and Göd had to cut most of its budget. Yet, we provided training for example to the local businesses, so they’ll know better how to apply for our projects as suppliers.
This year, the municipality boasts increased interest in its online services, in particular, the possibility to arrange tax matters remotely. What other digital services are planned to facilitate the administration and citizens?
We have a Smart City project planned, so as part of that not only the tax can be arranged, but almost every kind of document and form will be available remotely, in a more transparent way. The problem is that somehow by this time some counsellors see that as a political field, so I am not sure if such conflicts might delay the success.
What do you consider to be the greatest achievements of your governance? What are the biggest projects lying ahead and how did Covid-19 change your plans?
Since I became mayor, I wished to be able to live up to my promises, and revealed the suspected issues around the previous leadership. We could digitalize the office in a way, now the work is way much more effective.
Our most important goals are infrastructure improvements with more traffic lights and more structural directive, and we also have to invest in more preschool institutions. Unfortunately, the budget cut and the political challenges both put these investments at risk, and we will be grateful if we can still provide the standard services.
What are your thoughts on the portal TheMayor.EU, which aims to stimulate the local governments to exchange innovative solutions to the challenges of the day and gives them the platform to do this? How can it be useful to your administration?
It’s a good platform to draw attention. I’d appreciate it if I could see projects easily accessible that can be joined. For example, exchange programs, petitions, etc.
Is there a good practice from your town that you would like to recommend to the other mayors in the European Union?
I’m sure it’s not new for many, but I can only encourage other mayors to open up to the public and to share every piece of information they can. That will raise trust in the whole government, so the entirety of the work is going to be much easier too.
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