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He joined the Workers' Youth League at a young age, and was also active in JEF Norway. He was elected to Porsgrunn city council in 1995. After completing national service in the Royal Norwegian Navy, he moved to Liverpool, England to study medicine, graduating in 2003 with honours. He started as a family doctor in Skien, and later also became the medical director of the GP-led casualty unit. He was elected for a second term in Porsgrunn city council in 2007 after becoming leader of Porsgrunn Labour party the same year.
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