Het was behoorlijk druk tijdens de eerste reguliere raadsvergadering van de gemeente Westerkwartier. Op het eerste gezicht opmerkelijk, want op de agenda geen discussies omtrent een mogelijk azc, geen beslissingen over een multifunctioneel centrum voor Zevenhuizen en ook zijn er geen besluiten over de mtb-route door het Johan Smitpark. Toch drukte. De reden? Maar liefst 27 fractieassistenten werden deze avond benoemd. Een begrip dat in het Westerkwartier vrij nieuw is. In de voormalige gemeenten werd voorheen voornamelijk gewerkt met een steunfractie. Een groep mensen die ‘hun’ raadsleden ondersteunen, helpen en waar nodig hun expertise verlenen. Immers, raadslid zijn is een drukke bijbaan en wie met een kleine fractie in de raad terecht komt kan maar beter goede mensen op de achtergrond hebben. Een steunfractie. Tegenwoordig hebben we dus fractieassistenten. Maar wat is nu precies een fractieassistent? Kort door de bocht, een fractieassistent is een steunfractielid die mag aanschuiven bij raadscommissies. Een –soort van- raadslid zonder raadszetel.
33 raadsleden telt de gemeenteraad van de gemeente Westerkwartier en dat is veel. Het Westerkwartier is dan ook een grote gemeente, waarin veel speelt en waar veel beslissingen genomen moeten worden. Dit houdt in dat als elk punt van a tot z in de raadsvergadering zou worden besproken, we regelmatig nachtwerk te zien krijgen. Daarom maakt men tegenwoordig, naar Leekster voorbeeld, gebruik van raadscommissies. Onderwerpen worden hier bediscussieerd en zo goed mogelijk voorbereid. Het moet ertoe leiden dat er een gedegen –kant en klaar- advies van de raadscommissie richting de gemeenteraad kan gaan die uiteindelijk het laatste woord heeft. Gelet op het mogelijke grote aantal geagendeerde punten kan het zijn dat er op één vergaderavond meerdere commissies tegelijkertijd staan gepland. Geen probleem voor fracties die bestaan uit veel raadsleden. Maar u begrijpt dat het lastig wordt voor Chris Veeze (50PLUS) en Rogier van’t Land (D66) die namens hun partij in hun eentje in de gemeenteraad zitten. Hoe graag ze ook zouden willen, het is onmogelijk om op meerdere plekken tegelijkertijd aanwezig te zijn. Gelukkig hebben zij ook fractieassistenten. De welkome helpende handen die hun raadsfractie ondersteunen én die we dus regelmatig in actie zullen zien tijdens raadscommissies, als waren zij raadsleden. Bijkomend voordeel van het gegeven dat elke partij drie assistenten mag aanwijzen is dat er extra ruimte komt voor kennis, kunde én talent. Gert van Werven (Sterk Westerkwartier) en Jan Gutman (D66) hebben weliswaar geen raadzetel, wel blijven zij met al hun ervaring betrokken bij de Westerkwartierder politiek. Voor Sander Matthezing (VVD) en Joachim Bekkering (PvdA) geldt dat zij als fractieassistent rustig worden klaargestoomd voor het grote raadswerk. Aan de hand van meer ervaren raadsleden krijgen deze jonge groeibriljanten de kans te rijpen en het politieke spel in de vingers te krijgen. Dat maakt de functie van fractieassistent allesbehalve overbodig.

Meediscussiëren? Laat het weten op Twitter @richardlamberst.


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