Member of the State Parliament Marcus Schober / SPÖ Vienna, Source: Henisch on Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Marcus Schober: Trying to improve my hometown? To me, it doesn’t get much better.

Marcus Schober: Trying to improve my hometown? To me, it doesn’t get much better.

Interview with Marcus Schober, Member of the Vienna State Parliament and City Council of Vienna

Marcus Schober was born on 13 September 1980 in Vienna’s Ottakring district. He has trained as telecommunications, information and press officer and communication trainer for the Austrian Armed Forces. He has also studied Journalism and Communication Science, as well as Political Science at the University of Vienna.

He is a member of the SPÖ and has worked in government since the year 2000 when he started participating in various election campaigns. He was sworn to parliament in Vienna in February 2015 and is a member of that body and the Vienna City Council, taking part in various workgroups and committees.

Some of his more notable functions are in the municipal council committee for Education, youth, integration and transparency and Municipal Council Committee for Housing and Urban Renewal.

Mr Schober, you seem to be involved in a lot of committees at the City Hall of Vienna. What are some of the highlights of your work?

There are a lot of aspects of my work which I enjoy a lot, such as various committees, especially on Education and Safety, yey the highlight of my work has to be the people. I get to meet and interact with people from all walks of life while trying to improve my hometown. To me, it doesn’t get much better.

How has the pandemic affected your work in the Educational, Youth, Integration and Transparency Committee? What are some of the problems you faced and how did you overcome them?

The pandemic hit everyone hard, especially the youngest ones in our society. According to a study, half of all school children suffered from depressive symptoms during the pandemic, which are problems on a scale that we have not faced before. To overcome them two things were necessary: First: to slowly transition back to “normal” life and second, to invest even more in Education and our youth, especially with regards to mental health.

How did lockdowns affect young people in Vienna, especially when it comes to education?

As I mentioned it severely impacted their mental health. Not being able to socialise deeply impacted our youth. Studying and learning social dynamics is just as, if not more important than studying algebra, and they completely missed out on that for almost two years. Additionally, it is harder to teach children through a computer than in a classroom so in general, education suffered as well.

Now as the Covid crisis seems to be stabilising, what are the new challenges that the economic crisis poses?

Now that the health crisis will, hopefully, soon be over, the economic crisis will fully reveal itself. Austria has a record deficit in its budget and filling it without putting families and people at risk will be a complex task.

You have mentioned in the past that you are working for an egalitarian educational system in the city. What does that mean?

Our politics aim to provide the best education regardless of the financial background. That is why everything from kindergarten to university is free in Vienna. Education is not a privilege it is a right and here in Vienna and we work to ensure this every single day.

Recently there was an altercation between Viennese police and youth in the city. This raised the question among your colleagues about providing more communal spaces and recreational areas. What do you think is the right way forward on this issue?

Personally, I think that this will be less of an issue once bars, clubs and other venues are open and young people have a place to go at night. Nonetheless, it is still important that the youth have spaces where they can unwind and express themselves without disturbing other citizens.

TheMayor.EU is a unique platform that allows European city officials to share their achievements and explain how they have overcome challenges in their cities. Are there any projects or ideas you would like to share?

We are very proud to be the initiators of various European projects. I have been one of the founding members of River Cities which was started back in 2006. There we are cooperating with 20 other European cities.

Another project is Benchmarking Colours of Love, which encourages people to actively help design their surrounding and environment. Finally, we also have the Red Carpet Award which promotes art and young artists in 8 Countries - since Art and Culture unite people in a way that little else can.

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