Utrecht’s next mayor: Civic leaders want empathy, decisiveness; Public wants a woman
Utrecht city alderman and party leaders have made it publicly known what they are looking for in a new mayor for their city, the fourth largest in the Netherlands. Interim Mayor Peter den Oudsten took over for Jan van Zanen this month, when Van Zanen took the job as Mayor of The Hague.
His successor must "excel in communicating and connecting empathetically, acting thoughtfully and decisively, and acting accordingly," the politicians said in a document to the full city council about the position. The final text of the vacancy will be up for approval during Thursday night's council meeting.
Aside from someone who is "at home in Utrecht," the next mayor must be able to communicate empathetically, connect with people, be thoughtful, and lead with "decisive action," the council members said. "You have to put your back into it for the people who are having trouble coming along. Openness and sensitivity characterize your style".
Someone who stands with law and order for "the safety of Utrecht, and makes the necessary decisions," is ideal, and at the same time they said they want a doer who "dares to learn from mistakes," they said. While not explicitly stated, the emphasis on someone who can work well with police and prosecutors was not surprising considering the city was the site of a terrifying mass shooting last year which left four people dead and many others injured.
"Your life experience enables you to have authentic and sincere leadership".
Utrecht's city council members also reached out to the public once Van Zanen's new job was known, and asked residents to describe their wishes for a new mayor. Over 1,100 people responded. Many expressed their preference for a woman to helm the city, and the letter said respondents also wanted to see a younger person in the mayor's chair.
According to them, the mayor should at least be accessible, social, charismatic, powerful and with integrity. Furthermore, they believed that the mayor should have a heart for the city and strive for renewal.
The final text for the vacancy will be delivered to King's Commissioner Hans Oosters, at which point people may apply for the position. A committee of 12 city council members who work on confidential matters will conduct the job interviews, and will whittle the list down to two candidates likely before the Christmas holiday period.
Amersfoort Mayor Lucas Bolsius, who serves as the Utrecht Security Region deputy chair, contributed to the document along with the region's Chief Public Prosecutor, and other civil servants.