Former Groningen council member for the VVD Koen Schuiling was put forward to succeed Peter den Oudsten as the mayor of Groningen during a closed municipal council meeting on Monday night.
Translation by Traci White
The Groninger Internet Courant reports that for Schuiling, who is 60 years old, the position of mayor marks a return to the city: he was the VVD faction chairperson in the Groningen municipal council between 1998 and 2006. Dagblad van het Noorden reports that Schuiling will be the first non-Labour party mayor to lead the city of Groningen in nearly 70 years.
During his time in the council, he played a key role in the vote of no confidence in mayor Hans Ouwekerk due to inadequate government response to riots in the Oosterpark on New Years Eve in 1997.
He has been the mayor of Den Helder in North Holland since 2010, and he is an alumnus of the University of Groningen. Since 2017, he has also been a member of the supervisory board of the Hanze University of Applied Sciences.
More recently, Koenraads made national news in early 2019 after submitting an editorial to the NRC newspaper criticizing his own political party, the VVD. Dagblad van het Noorden reported at the time that Koenraads was concerned that the fundamental liberal values of the party were under threat, and took the party to task for how party representatives were handling the earthquakes in Groningen.
There had been some hope that Den Oudsten’s successor would be the first female mayor of the city, but the council ultimately chose Schuiling. Five women and eight men were in the running for the position. Other potential nominees included Sharon Dijksma (PvdA, alderperson in Amsterdam), Ineke van Gent (GroenLinks, current mayor of Schiermonnikoog), Wilma Mansveld (PvdA, former undersecretary for infrastructure and environment), Alexander Pechtold (former leader of the D66 faction in the Dutch parliament) and Henk Pijlman (D66, president of the Hanze University of Applied Sciences).