Femke Halsema wants another term as mayor of Amsterdam, she said in a letter to the municipal council, asking for reappointment. Halsema took office on 12 July 2018. Her six-year term ends next year. “Together with our city council, the aldermen, and all Amsterdam residents, I want to continue working for a free, undivided, safe and proud city,” Halsema said.
According to Halsema, safeguarding freedom was the greatest responsibility she set herself upon her installation as mayor of Amsterdam in July 2018. “I mentioned three major tasks: fighting crime, more attention for Amsterdam residents in neighborhoods where prosperity is not sefl-evident, and support for everyone who demands the right to be themselves, and therefore, sometimes different,” she wrote.
“Back then, no one could have imagined how much the COVID-19 epidemic would limit our freedom for almost two years, nor how the attacks on Derk Wiersum and Pieter R. de Vries would test our rule of law. In recent years, the number of demonstrations has increased significantly, we were the first city in the Netherlands to apologize for slavery, and we took in large groups of asylum seekers, partly as a result of the war in Ukraine.”
“The three major tasks that I mentioned in 2018 are invariably the core of my mayoralty,” Halsema said. She will continue to focus on that if re-appointed. “Whether it is the fight against the drug economy, against advancing anti-Semitism and racism, against the persistent violence against LGBTQIA+ people and women: in policies and measures, in attitude, attention, and solidarity, I have always been on the side of those who suffer under criminals, violence, bullies, and intolerant people.”
In recent months, Halsema has faced criticism over plans to reduce tourism pressure in the Red Light District. She’s clashed with residents of Noord and Zuid multiple times over plans for an Erotic Center, moving sex workers out of the crowded city center. There’s also been criticism of measures like banning smoking cannabis on the street. Some measures to increase safety on the Amsterdam streets have also missed the mark. For example, Halsema had to scrap a stop-and-frisk experiment early this year due to accusations of ethnic profiling by the police.
She’s made some mistakes, Halsema acknowledged in her letter to the city council. “The work goes on day and night: Amsterdam, as an idiosyncratic capital, is under a magnifying glass, and decisions that you have to make in the blink of an eye can have major consequences for the life of residents or the functioning of companies or cultural institutions.”
“At the same time, I note with due pride that the [office of mayor, police, and prosecutor] is united and works in a controlled manner, that there is more peace and progress in the fire brigade, that the municipal apparatus is becoming stronger and more stable, and that the Security Region, the Amsterdam Metropolitan Region, and the Amsterdam Economic Board have gained new impetus.”
Halsema added that the city needs to review its procedures and rules, simplify its complicated system of permits, and assess how it handles complaints. “As the capital, we also have to set a better example. Together with you, I want to make the transition to a municipality that stands with the people of Amsterdam and acts accordingly.”