The Schiedam VVD had good reason to celebrate four years ago. The party won six seats and became the largest party in the municipal council for the first time ever. The result was extra special for Tom Janssen, who was 19 years old at the time. His fifth place on the list of candidates was more than enough to garner a seat on the municipal council.

Over the past few years he has combined his work as a councillor with his bachelor and master in economics and law. This posed no problems for him either. “As a student you’re pretty flexible and there was a lot of leeway when it came to scheduling much of my council work. I also discovered that working as a councillor is harder to combine for someone with a full-time job than for me as a student.”

No longer the youngest

Janssen has seen it all as the spokesperson for issues such as security, integration and mobility. He’s especially proud of the area development around the station, something he and his fellow party members worked very hard to achieve. “It wasn’t the most attractive or safe area in the city. And now thousands of homes are being built there, including accommodations for students. It’s the perfect location, between Delft and Rotterdam.”

Right from the start, Janssen’s age made him stand out among his 34 ‘colleagues’. Still, he has never wanted to call attention to his background as a student. I’m just one of 35 council members and it just so happens I’m the youngest. That’s always been my attitude. It would be nice if I was no longer the youngest council member after this election.”

Getting down to work

At number 3 on the candidate’s list, it’s almost certain he’ll continue on in his career as a municipal councillor. Even though he’s busy finishing up both of his master programmes, he’s looking forward to his next term on the council. “It was both enjoyable and a great learning experience. It’s only after around three years that you really understand what your work as a councillor entails. By that time you understand exactly how all the procedures work and the best way to approach issues so you actually get things done.”

As campaign leader, Janssen has spent the past few weeks making arrangements for the flyers, posters sandwich boards and coordinating the campaign. He’s hoping that his hard work will pay off with another historic result. “I hope we win six seats this time around, but the most important thing is to become the biggest party again. Then we can all get down to work. No endless discussions and no obstruction. We want to roll up our sleeves and getting things done.”

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