Tackling serious crime, connecting citizens new Amsterdam mayor's priorities
As mayor of Amsterdam, Femke Halsema sees her three "biggest tasks" as tackling serious crime, connecting citizens from all parts of the city, and protecting individual identity. "Whether it is a young transgender or an Islamic homosexual. You'll find me on the side of people who want to be themselves", she said after being sworn in by Johan Remkes, commissioner of the King in Noord-Holland, NOS and Het Parool report.
Halsema, 52, is the first female mayor of Amsterdam as well as the first GroenLinks mayor of the capital. She took the opportunity to commemorate former mayor Eberhard van der Laan, who passed away of cancer in October, by starting her speech in the words he used when he was sworn in as mayor in July 2010.
"Amsterdammers! And also... dignitaries, King's Commissioner, members of the council, former mayors, family and friends. Thanks for the warm welcome and for the trust you give me. Trust is like a gift, something you never have a claim on and always have to be grateful for. I know that I have to live up ot that trust every day for the next six years", Halsema said. "These are not my opening words, but those of Eberhard van der Laan, which he spoke here eight years ago."
"Eberhard was exceptional", she said. "At the end of his life, he became one with the city."
On Thursday Amsterdam also said goodbye to Jozias van Aartsen, who was acting mayor in the capital after Van der Laan's death. "Take good care of this city", Van Aartsen said in his farewell speech, repeating Van der Laan's final instruction to his people: "Take good care of our city and each other." Van Aartsen called on the council to stop undermining crime in Amsterdam, referring to recent incidents, such as an attack on De Telegraaf, and a shooting at a community center that left a 17-year-old boy dead.
At around the same time as the new mayor gave her speech, three people were hurt in a shooting in De Pijp. According to Het Parool, it was an attempted assassination aimed at a Dutch-Pakistani criminal.
The appointment of Amsterdam's new mayor was not entirely smooth. The vacancy had to be opened a second time, because there were too few suitable candidates. An investigation was also launched into a leak from the confidential committee responsible for nominating a new mayor.