"Mayor’s job important, even with a city manager" by: Mike Reddell

   City Council’s first town hall meeting on the three city charter change propositions on the May 4 election was a good start toward educating the public. 
   What surfaced at the forum were questions about the respective roles a mayor and city manager would have if voters approved changing the present council-mayor form of government to a council/mayor-city manager government.
   I’ve lived in several places where there is both a mayor and city manager – indeed close to 95 percent of Texas cities have that system in place.
   The mayors in those cities are, by and large, front and center on issues and become the lightning rod if things go south, like disasters. 
   I’ve learned over time here that the May 4 election is the latest in several prior unsuccessful attempts to have a city manager running the city’s day-to-day operations.
   If the council/mayor-city manager city charter revision is passed, the mayor becomes part of city council.
   By no means does that mean the mayoral position in Bay City would be diminished because the mayor no longer runs the daily operations.
   It all depends on the person elected as mayor.
   The mayor should be the leader of city council beyond simply presiding over the meetings.
   It’s an elected position and the mayor, as council members said at last week’s forum, would serve as liaison between council and the city manager in seeing city policies are followed.
   It’s a demanding job in any city. 
   It’s not, as two council members described last week, a figurehead or ceremonial post.
   At the very least, if the mayor would become part of council – as the proposition calls for – that would mean every council position is a figurehead or ceremonial post.
   That certainly isn’t the case.
   Moving forward, I would hope council members take extra care in describing the mayor’s job if that proposition passes.
   One key aspect of a city manager post in Bay City is informing city council on city affairs.
   When the mayor also is the city manager, which is Bay City’s current system, the chief executive may or may not keep council informed on what’s happening at City Hall.
   City managers are paid professionals and it’s in their best interests, if they want to stay employed, to keep council in the loop.
   In my opinion, city managers also are best served in keeping the city department heads informed as much as possible.
   In the end, if the voters pass the proposition, a mayor with strong leadership skills will guide council in moving the city forward.
   A mayor’s job is not for the faint-hearted.

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