“We’re now distributing flyers and campaigning.” As a board member of the local CDA party and number 6 on the list, that’s really all you do in the week before the municipal council elections But if you’re also a Sociology and Philosophy student and have an exam to do, there are times when you have to say no to your fellow board members. “Sometimes, you just can’t do everything,” says Josephine Hartmann (19) on the phone, as she leaves her study place in the library. “At the moment I’m a flying board member, because I obviously go back quite a lot, if my studies allow.”
For Hartmann, back means Berg en Dal, near Nijmegen. Which makes the logistics even more complicated. To be able to take part in all the election debates, distribute flyers and do market presentations in between her lectures, seminars and exams, she has to travel several times a week between Rotterdam and the municipality on the German border. “I went there and back on Monday, there and back on Tuesday, Thursday I went to Berg en Dal again, and I’ll spend the whole weekend campaigning.”
For her older board colleagues, it’s sometimes difficult to understand that she also has other priorities. But after a year on the CDA board, Hartmann notices that her age also has advantages. She’s not just responsible for the social media of the local party; she also knows exactly what local young people need.
“All the young people leave Berg en Dal after secondary school. If I’m elected to the council, I want to lobby the municipality to make it more appealing for young people to return. Most importantly, the associations need to be managed better. The municipality can help there. If the associations do well, life will return and people will get to know each other better.”
Windmills are another important theme for Hartmann and the CDA in Berg en Dal. Not that the party is against clean and sustainable energy, but is should be achieved differently. “Windmills really don’t suit this municipality and the landscape. I want to focus on solar panels and solar fields.”
Whether Hartmann will be able to fight for her plans in the council over the next four years is not yet certain. In the local opinion poll, the party has six seats, which would be just enough. However, she isn’t sure whether she will accept the seat herself. “I can combine being a board member with my studies, but as a council member that’s much harder. And I’d need to move back to Berg en Dal if I’m elected. So I’ll probably give back the seat if it comes to it, but I hope that we get six seats.”