Mayor of Vidovec Bruno Hranić , Source: Bruno Hranić

Bruno Hranić: We need to pay special attention to young people with new ideas

Bruno Hranić: We need to pay special attention to young people with new ideas

An interview with the Mayor of Vidovec, Croatia

Bruno Hranić was born in Varaždin on 23 May 1968. He has a degree in Economics and many years of experience in politics. Hranić was first elected Mayor of Vidovec in 1997 and he remained in office until 2001.

A few years later in 2007, Hranić was re-elected and has now been the Mayor of Vidovec for five consecutive terms. Beyond this, Hranić has also been a Member of the European Committee of the Regions since July 2013.

Mr Mayor, how would you describe the Municipality of Vidovec?

The Municipality of Vidovec is located in Varaždin County in the North-West part of Croatia. It has 5,425 inhabitants who live in 11 villages. The oldest data shows that some villages in this area existed at the beginning of the 13th century. The main activity is agriculture, but small and medium enterprises and crafts are also developed.

It is a place known for good and hardworking people, production of Varaždin cabbage and cultural-gastronomic manifestation called “Zeljarijada”, where we make the longest sarma (stuffed cabbage rolls) in the world.

Our municipality is proud of its cultural tradition and gastronomic richness. We have two protected products: Varaždin cabbage – protected on the EU level and Vidovečki gibanik (traditional buckwheat flour pie) – protected on the national level.

Our municipality is located on the very edge of the centre of our region; the city of Varaždin, therefore, is extremely attractive to young people who come to live here. It is a well-developed place where you would want to live.

You have been the Mayor of Vidovec for six terms. How has the municipality evolved over this period?

During my 6 mandates, a lot was invested in communal and social infrastructure. I can say that we have made a great step forward here. Every year, new streets are established and opened, which enables young families to build houses.

We have modernised public lighting (LED), built a new primary school and two sports halls. We have built sidewalks and bike paths for the safety of children in traffic. Investments were also made in culture and sports as we built a cultural centre and renovated sports facilities.

This year, we have completed the construction of a new kindergarten for 120 children worth 2 million euros. The largest project we are currently implementing is the construction of a sewer, worth 7.5 million euros, which is funded by the EU Cohesion Fund.

We have invested evenly in the development of all 11 villages. In recent years, we have focused on the construction of residential and business zones and the development of rural tourism. According to the fiscal policy of the municipality, entrepreneurs are exempted from all taxes towards the municipality at the beginning of their business. We have also built tourist facilities, promenades, and bicycle routes for tourists.

Perhaps the most important thing is to mention environmental protection, which is at the very top of our priorities. This can be seen through programs such as waste separation on the doorstep (each household has 5 garbage cans), use of mobile recycling yard, planting trees and energy renovation of public buildings, which is planned for this year.

Your administration has launched multiple initiatives to support children and young people. Can you elaborate on these projects?

Our municipality is children friendly. It was the first municipality with this status in Varaždin County. It is committed to fulfilling children's rights, including their right to influence decisions about our municipality. We have established a Children's Council, where elementary school children can express their opinions about our Municipality and be actively involved in the decision-making process. Also, the children can participate in the cultural, sport and social life of the municipality.

We also have a Youth Council, which is an advisory body to the Municipal Council. It enables the participation of young people in the decision-making process regarding public affairs which are of interest and importance to young people. It encourages the active involvement of young people in public life and local government. Several actions initiated by our Coordination Board were declared as the best action of the year at the national level.

What plans do you have for the post-COVID recovery and future development of Vidovec?

The COVID crisis has left its impact throughout all of Croatia, including our municipality. However, at the very beginning, the Municipality of Vidovec immediately came to the aid of people, and entrepreneurs.

We procured disinfectants and medical equipment, which were distributed to them free of charge. We also gave financial assistance to entrepreneurs who were most affected by the COVID. I personally participated in negotiations with the Croatian Ministry of Agriculture to enable the sale of agricultural products and flowers of our farmers and florists. We found new distribution channels and prevented these products from declining.

In a way, we already have greatly reduced the consequences of the COVID crisis. But also, we have prepared projects which we are going to apply for EU recovery funds to reduce the effects of the COVID crisis.

How is the vaccine rollout progressing in your municipality?

In our municipality, the process of vaccination has already started. According to data from our Health department, on 12 October, 48% of people were vaccinated with the first dose and 44.36% were vaccinated with both doses.

Personally, I am not satisfied with the response of citizens to vaccination. Despite the efforts of the medical staff operating in the municipality, there is still a large number of citizens who are sceptical about the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Part of the blame lies with social networks, insufficient information, and lack of sensibility towards the elderly and sick population, which is the most endangered. It is incomprehensible that in the 21st century, educated people trust media and social networks more than medical experts and science. Here, I must point out my disappointment.

As a mayor with many years of experience and a member of the European Committee of the Regions, what advice would you give to other European leaders on our platform?

To my colleagues and other politicians from the European Union, I can say that the most important thing is to be in daily contact with people in the community. From this everyday contact, even criticism, we need to draw ideas for further development.

We need to pay special attention to young people with new ideas and programs that can transform the life of the community for the better. And that means that these people will stay in these small places. As politicians, with our work and example, we need to be the ones who will give young people the incentive to get involved in politics, not to make them hate it.



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