What did you want to be as a child?
‘As a child, I remember I thought it would be really interesting to be the captain of a big, ocean-going ship. Sailing across the sea in the merchant navy with all kinds of stuff on board, it seemed special. That passed after a while, although I still enjoy sailing during holidays. Like when I sailed to Dover: that’s when I like the boat trips the most.’
You’re mayor of Nijmegen: are you the captain of the city?
‘Well, running a ship is very different from running a city, of course. As mayor, you steer policy and, naturally, you can’t just make 180,000 residents change course. You have different roles: you are chair of the Municipal Executive, and of the Municipal Council. In addition to my role as representative, my duties in terms of security and public order are hugely important. For example, I have regular talks with the fire brigade and the police about how to keep the city safe for residents. You basically loom over the political parties and aldermen and make decisions. You have to as well: a democracy couldn’t survive if no decisions were made.’