The Slovenia Times

Mayor of flood-hit town Delo's person of 2023

Črna na Koroškem Mayor Romana Lesjak accepts Delo Person of 2023 award. Photo: Katja Kodba/STA

Romana Lesjak, the mayor of Črna na Koroškem, one of towns hit hardest in the August 2023 floods, has become the first political official in 17 years to be named the person of the year of Slovenia's leading newspaper Delo.

Lesjak was on the front line of flood relief in her municipality in the north of the county after massive flooding affected two-thirds of Slovenia. Črna na Koroškem was cut off from the rest of the country for a few days with the Meža River causing chaos and devastation.

In the wake of the disaster, the mayor became the symbol of hope, resilience and courage, Delo said at a ceremony on 10 January. The way she handled the calamity showed people how to lead a community in difficult times.

"Wherever I was people would tell me: we're voting for you, we want you to win because we know you'll always fight for Črna and you've always been one of the first to speak out," Lesjak, 67, told Delo in an interview.

Serving as mayor of Črna since 2010, Lesjak is the first politician to be named Delo's Person of the Year since 2006, when the publisher gave out its title in four categories, business, culture, politics and sports.

The winner was selected by readers among the ten nominees named by the Delo editorial board.

Matjaž Kek (right), the head coach of the men's national football team, pictured with Delo editor-in-chief Bojan Budja as he accepts the Delo Achievement of 2023 award. Photo: Katja Kodba/STA

The publisher keeps striving to showcase the achievements of remarkable people who "took a step forward, embraced challenges and did not get scared in the face of obstacles, which is why they inspire us," Delo's director Nataša Luša told the ceremony.

She is confident that ever since the newspaper was founded 65 years ago, Delo has been raising awareness about these role models and their impact.

The honorary speaker at the ceremony was Delo's Person of 2022 - Marjan Pipenbaher, a civil engineer who, having designed the Pelješac Bridge in Croatia, achieved one of the greatest engineering feats in Europe.

Prior to the ceremony, Delo also declared the Achievement of the Year 2023, an honour which went to Matjaž Kek, the head coach of the men's national football team, which last year qualified for a Euro for the first time since 2010. Kek was also one of the nominees for the Person of the Year 2023.

Other nominees were former Interior Minister Tatjana Bobnar, cyclist Tadej Pogačar, Michelin-starred chef Ana Roš Stojan, Civil Protection commander Srečko Šestan, infectious diseases specialist and author David Zupančič, Book Agency head Katja Stergar, teacher Uroš Ocepek and civil engineer and hydrologist Rok Fazarinc.

Delo has been selecting its person of the year since 1990.


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