Elections 2012
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Christian Democrats

Who is Johan Plomp and what are his intentions?

I am an alien, or am I? We have lived in Tampere for a six years – my three children, my wife and I. We moved here from Oulu, where we lived for 17 years. You are right when you assume that I don’t originate from there either – my home country is the Netherlands. What can I possibly have to offer to this Finnish Manchester – Tampere? Let me tell you more about my background and thoughts. Then I leave it up to you to decide whether I am worthy of your confidence.
In the Netherlands I obtained a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering and continued my studies in Finland at the University of Oulu, where I received the Licentiate’s degree. Already while working at the University I accepted tasks, which are not usually regarded to be a part of a researcher’s work; I arranged further education programmes to educate people in IT. From 1996 I have been employed by VTT, where my tasks have included both research and management. I have created networks both within and outside VTT and have aimed to achieve the best possible team results by giving room to each individual member's different personality and creativity. VTT’s mission to improve the competitiveness of the Finnish industry is an important one. The cooperation with companies has taught me the importance of entrepreneurship and the challenges of small companies. In the Tampere city council I intend to ensure, that entrepreneurship, particularly for start-up companies, is properly supported. Furthermore, I like to advocate viewing people’s differences as a valuable resource, for example by looking for ways to activate people, who have for some reason been without employment, to help build this society.

My family is on takes a central spot in my life. Home is a resting place and a support. I have grown towards taking responsibilities in the society also through my family. My wife’s diaconal tasks in the church have opened my eyes to social unfairness and motivated me to want to work towards the improvement of everyone’s quality of life. Through my children I became involved in the school’s parental committee and acted as chairman for a period of time (in Oulu). Through this task, I learned about the challenges in the school system. In the summer I have been involved as trainer of my son’s soccer team (in Tampere). It is important that anyone can afford to participate in hobbies and sports.
My own immigrant background an diverse circle of foreign friends has taught me about cultural differences and values. I have been able to view the Finnish society through the eyes of many an immigrant, in addition to my own experiences as a Dutch person. Foreign eyes possibly even spot better, where the Finnish society can still be improved, but also help to recognise the many matters to be grateful for. Immigrants are not a homogeneous group, instead their social situation can be very different. Some need more support to cope than others, but every immigrant wants to be a valuable part of this society. The society itself also benefits when everybody, each with their own personality, finds a place where he/she is appreciated and where he/she can deploy their abilities – independent of whether he/she is an immigrant or Finn by birth. The city has a duty to help everyone find that place. 
Some years ago, when dual nationality became an option, I obtained the Finnish nationality. There are not many benefits for an EU citizen to get a Finnish passport, but I experienced Finland as my second home and wanted to make that official. I wanted to be a real part of this society and build it together with others. I now live in Tampere and want to build it together with you. As I recently moved to Tampere, I do not claim to know all areas and needs. But I don’t really believe that any long-term inhabitant of Tampere knows them either. In my opinion, only the people living in an area really know what improvements are needed there. We need support for area-based associations and possibilities to influence on the decisions affecting an area. Fortunately Tampere has already made the first moves in this local democracy (see e.g. Alvari and Mansetori), but a lot still needs to be done. The possibilities of the city are nevertheless limited and the effort of volunteers to improve their area is invaluable. So the improvement of the city does not only need good council members, but also the effort of local residents in their own area. 
Do you still think I am a stranger – or will you help me build a more humane Tampere?