First black mayor of a major Dutch city takes office this week

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Franc Weerwind (Picture: Twitter/@francweerwind). Franc Weerwind (Picture: Twitter/@francweerwind)

The first black mayor of a major Dutch city takes office this week. D66 party member Franc Weerwind will be appointed the mayor of Almere on Wednesday.

The now 50 year old Franc Weerwind was born in Amsterdam to parents from sailed from Paramaribo to IJmuiden in the 50's, according to the AD. He grew up in Nieuw-Vennep. Weerwind'ss resume is very much the same as any other politician with the same ambitions. Administration in Leiden. Member of political party D66. Married to a traditional Dutch lady, with a son and a daughter. And steadily rose through the ranks from a position of deputy city secretary. He was even part of a student association in Leiden.

According to D66 Almere chairman Jan Lems, the skin color of Almere's new mayor was "of no importance", AD reports. "Of the thirteen candidates, six were eligible for appointment. Franc was chosen because he was the best. That's it."

Others are overjoyed by his appointment. "Great for the Surinamese community" said Madsy Mossel-Breeveld, president of the local Surinamese Seniors Association. Roy Ho Ten Soeng, the first Dutch mayor not to have two Dutch parents, calls it "historic". "Of course it is a breakthrough."

Ho Ten Soeng encouraged Weerwind to join the student association and later become a board member of the Foundation Friendship Ties Netherlands-Suriname with the same advice he gives all ethnic minority young people - it's not only papers that make a career, "it's also about your network. Your talent for lobbying".

According to the AD, nobody assumes that Weerwind will use his position as mayor to ruffle feathers. "I say to all the people here: he will be mayor for all residents of Almere. Not only for the Surinamese.", said Madsy Mossel. Jerry Afriyie, who is part of a young activist movement, describes Weerwind ad "someone looking for a balance between the establishment and the emotions of the black community." "I am an activist, He is the mayor. He has a different role."

D66 party leader Lems expects that there will be "tension" between Weerwind and the large PVV faction in Almere, but that Weerwind will be able to handle it. "In The Hague D66 leader Pechtold and PVV leader Wilders often cross swords, sure, but here Franc Weerwind has to stand above the parties. He can do that." Weerwind was unanimously nominated by the confidence committee, which is chaired by the PVV. "The PVV will test him. But there is confidence." Lems said.

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