The longest-serving mayor of the same municipality in Drenthe has been in office a little longer since tonight. Mayor Rikus Jager of the municipality of Westerveld is starting his third term. Jager was sworn in again in the council chamber on Tuesday evening under the watchful eye of family, the college and city council members.

    “I’m glad I can continue with you for a while,” the mayor said. Despite the fact that Jager has been sworn in for the third time, the mayor was slightly nervous. For example, he almost forgot to sign the papers of the King’s Commissioner, Jetta Klijnsma. “I was momentarily overwhelmed.”

    Social and approachable mayor

    Jager took office as mayor in 2010 after a thirty-year career with the Public Prosecution Service. He was also a member of the House of Representatives in The Hague and a councilor in Appingedam before moving to Drenthe as a director.

    What do you like most about being mayor? “The contacts,” he says. “That is not only international, national or regional, that is also with the own population which makes it very diverse. You meet different people every day. Even with simple things like a 60th wedding anniversary – that seems very simple but is quite an achievement for those people – you hear things that play out in society. That makes your profession and office very dynamic.”

    Alderman Henk Doeven also mentions this. He characterizes Jager as an approachable folk father. “Everyone in Westerveld and far beyond has your telephone number. They can call you well into the evening.” It didn’t always come from a good night’s sleep, Jager agrees. “So far it seems sufficient, but you often only know that afterwards. In sixty years I have lived 120 years. That gives a certain degree of satisfaction, that also makes it fun.”

    Final sprint

    Hunter will not complete his last term. In about a year and a half, the mayor hopes to turn seventy and it has been legally determined that he must stop. However, Jager does not intend to gradually reduce the pace, he is more likely to think of a final sprint. “There are still so many things that I want to start or finish, so that things don’t calm down. At least not as far as I’m concerned. I still see so many challenges.”

    According to Jager, these challenges mainly lie in the field of nitrogen. The municipality of Westerveld has three Natura 2000 areas, he wants to keep the Unesco status that the municipality acquired last year and he is also looking at the reorganization within the Ministry of Defence, which will also have consequences for the barracks in Havelte. He also wants to give Astron a bigger platform. He thinks the institute is too unknown within society for what it means internationally.

    Actually, Jager does not want to call it a final sprint at all. He just doesn’t want to think about quitting at all. Even after his time as mayor, he wants to remain active and involved. “Without getting in the way of anyone in the municipality, of course,” he adds.

    Polarization

    In the years that Jager has been politically active, he has faced many challenges. Such as during the corona pandemic that flattened the world or the commotion and division about the arrival of the wolf, but also when it comes to polarization and behavior towards administrators. “You experience that now and then, without me immediately losing sleep over it. That may be the advantage of not being on social media.”

    Jager refers to a conversation he had with the late Eberhard van der Laan during his time in The Hague, to which he sometimes thinks back. “I sat with him in the smoking room of the Chamber and we had a conversation about how you can cope with the polarization in society. We learned from each other how to deal with that, namely: stand in between, say what you think. You do that to reach those people as well. At that time we both did not yet know that we were going to become mayor.”

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