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Zabrze. Agnieszka Rupniewska took the oath as the new mayor of the city

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She twice tried to take power away from Małgorzata Mańka-Szulik, who had ruled Zabrze since 2006. Lucas Podolski, captain of the Górnik Zabrze team, helped her in overtime. Today Agnieszka Rupniewska was sworn in as the mayor of the city.

At Tuesday's session of the Zabrze city council, the new mayor Agnieszka Rupniewska and new councilors took the oath.

Two fights, two turns and the help of Górnik Zabrze's captain

Rupniewska and Mańka-Szulik met twice as rivals for the highest office in Zabrze, this year and in the previous local elections. Both times they both advanced to the second round. In 2018, Rupniewska was new to local government, after losing the elections she became a councilor. Mańka-Szulik has 18 years of experience as the city's mayor, but she has been increasingly criticized, among other things, for the condition of the city's football club Górnik Zabrze. The media demanded that she privatize the club, called her its unofficial president, and accused her of constant changes in this position.

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Before the second round of this year's elections, one of Mańka-Szulik's critics, Lucas Podolski, captain of Górnik Zabrze, officially handed over the jersey to Rupniewska. Did this help her win the fight for the stool? Already in the first round she overtook her predecessor.

She said then in an interview for Roosvelta81.pl: – We want to change Górnik from scratch, we don't want to play with the stands. The President considered herself an excellent sports expert. She knew how to walk into the locker room and her replacement thought it was a great gesture. I believe that politics should stay as far away from the club as possible, and what is happening in Górnik should be transparent. For me, it is very important that sponsors and investors appear in Górnik. Therefore, Mr. Lukas Podolski's declaration that he wants to continue helping is very important. I certainly won't run the club from the backseat. There are so many things we have to deal with in the city that I won't be able to complain about the lack of responsibilities.

City expenses shrouded in mystery

Rupniewska is 38, younger than her rival. Both consider themselves politically independent, Rupniewska was twice supported by the Civic Coalition. What did she promise voters?

In the local media, she was presented as the richest councilor in Zabrze. The president of a private company disclosed almost PLN 800,000 in savings in her asset declaration. And she talked about the city's finances in her election program, pointing to it as the city's biggest problem.

– The city's current debt is PLN 745 million, and the debt of city companies totals PLN 220 million. These two amounts make up almost the city's annual budget; the city's debts should be stopped and city money should be spent wisely, an audit and opening balance sheet should be carried out, the management of city companies should be optimized and the scope of their activities should be verified – she declared during the campaign.

– Who will do this audit, an external auditor, officials, councilors? – journalist Marcin Zasada asked Rupniewska a week ago on Radio Piekary.

“It definitely needs to be handled by professionals,” she replied. – Therefore, the audit committee or the city council are one thing, but I would certainly like it to be handled by external specialists who would verify the financial situation. But I would also like to work together with the vice-presidents to review the current expenses and contracts that are currently concluded with the city and those concluded between municipal companies and other entities, to see where possible savings can be found.

The new president added that previously, as a councilor, she had asked companies about various expenses, but was told in response that this was not public information. As an example, she cited the increase in water and sewage fees, announced for early May. Rupniewska asked about the amount of the increase in waterworks and Mańka-Szulik. It was the time of the election campaign. She claims that she did not receive any information.

In the radio conversation she did not promise that there would be no this and other increases, but that they would be gradual, not sudden, as before – once every three years and therefore high.

Main photo source: City Hall Zabrze

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