"I have always lived by the words 'Face your fears, don't be scared shi*less' but that isn't very print-friendly. So you might say that 'I wasn't brought up in the woods to be scared by owls' is an apt motto for me," was the downright way that Jan Bureš, member of the ODS, MP, and mayor of Ostrov started our interview.
You are once again an MP as of September 2021. What are your priorities in today's ever-changing political landscape? Energy, I would assume…
The situation is certainly dire and the causes are manifold. I feel that it is plain to see today that the road to a carbon-neutral energy industry was poorly planned. Counting on cheap natural gas from Russia in the interim period was clearly a mistake. Since there is no easy way to redesign energy production and building nuclear power plants takes many years, we are forced to look for other, reliable natural gas suppliers. But I do not think that people need to fear their heaters going cold or not having hot water. The industry might fare worse, though.
How do you feel about the proposal to lower temperatures in homes to 18 degrees? In condominiums, for instance, digital sensors have been implemented for ages and apartment heating has been steadily decreasing…
I feel that this whole thing is rather declaratory, people have been saving, insulating, and conserving heat long before we've had these energy issues. What's more, the state has no way of overseeing this. I see it more as a signal to the public to be thrifty when it comes to heating their homes.
How is the town of Ostrov in the Karlovy Vary region where you are mayor doing in terms of energy?
I am most proud of the fact that we managed to maintain energy prices at the same levels as the two previous years for our households and businesses alike. A GJ of heat in Ostrov costs 616 CZK including VAT, one of the lowest prices in the country. We also installed two new boilers, one that runs on biomass and one that is coal-powered. That means our heating options have expanded from gas to coal and biomass as well. None of our citizens have to live in fear of being left without heat or hot water. That is certainly what I am most proud of.
You are an honorable member of the Ostrov Sharpshooters. What exactly does that entail?
Sharpshooters once constituted the municipal militia all over the country. Most such groups were disbanded prior to World War II, sadly, and the Communist regime did not help much either. There was a time when the EU was trying to regulate gun ownership, which we didn't like and wanted to do something about. It was my friend Petr Šindelář who came up with the idea of reinstituting the Ostrov Sharpshooters, and he also became the president of our club. We commissioned uniforms that closely follow the design of the ones our predecessors wore. Seeing the positive reactions of people who see us at the different fairs and shows is really pleasant. We organize annual royal volleys where we shoot our special guns – muzzle-loaded carbines. The king of the sharpshooters then has to paint the target for the coming year.
Are you running in the municipal election? If so, what are your plans for Ostrov?
I am definitely going to run! Ostrov is close to my heart, and a man needs to be able to see the fruit of his labor. We have a number of plans for the town's development – starting with a new sports arena through a new skatepark and sauna all the way to refurbishing a facility for small business owners or ones that are just starting out. I would also like to make sure that we keep working on our heating plant. It is becoming more and more clear that energy requires a strategic approach. I would like to potentially develop hydrogen production facilities and attempt to implement community energy. Being able to supply local electric energy we made ourselves to not only public buildings but also households would be amazing.
How do you see the Karlovy Vary region as a regional representative? What does it have to offer, and where is it lacking instead?
The Karlovy Vary region is not doing all that well. It is becoming obsolete, people are leaving, there is no public university or a highway connecting it to Prague. It is doing the worst out of the entire country all across the board. Finding solutions to that is hard, but I think we should start with the simplest one. When I think about what it is that people actually need, it is a job and a place to live. We have industrial areas in our region, even BMW is finishing up its polygon facility. We should focus on housing construction now. I have already spoken to the Minister of Defense about this when she came to visit us. If the government provided us with funding for municipal rental housing construction, where perhaps half of the apartments could go to state employees and teachers, it would greatly increase the inflow of young people to the region. Then the police, prisons, and the fire brigade would have no trouble finding people to work for them.
Autumn is here, the holidays are over. Did you get some rest over the summer?
I only took a week of vacation over the summer, which I spent with my wife in Mallorca. We weren't able to do more than that due to all of our duties. My wife actually manages a successful dance troupe called Mirákl. They have won several world and European championships and the summer means a time of training and preparation for them.
Jan Bureš (born March 31, 1974, in Ostrov) is an MP for the ODS, representative of the Karlovy Vary region since 2016, and mayor of Ostrov since 2018.
In 1992, he graduated from the Ostrov Grammar School and started working for NVI Karlovy Vary. Between 1993–2001, he worked as a receptionist and operations officer at the Jáchymov Spa.
In 2008, he received his master's degree from the Faculty of Business Administration of the Prague University of Economics and Business.
He became a member of the ODS in 1994. He started working as a deputy mayor of Ostrov in 2001, later being elected mayor. He remained in that post until 2010 and has once again attained it in 2018. Between 2008–2012, he was a regional representative of the Karlovy Vary region. He was once again elected in the 2016 regional election, also becoming the regional councilman for healthcare.
He was an MP for three years starting in 2010 and has once again returned to the Chamber following last year's election.
He is married and has a daughter.