Mayor Description

Contributed by Richard W. Best

Wikipedia tells us that mayor comes from the Latin major which means “bigger” and in many countries is the highest-ranking official in a municipal government such as that of a city or town. It goes on to explain worldwide there is a wide variance regarding the powers and responsibilities of a mayor, much less how they are elected.  [Available: July 11, 2016]

It depends on the local laws involved, but let's take a look at some local examples: Some towns the mayor is elected by the citizens and is the chief executive officer (CEO) of the municipal government, like in Wasilla. Some places may elect their city council and then the city council elects the mayor from among the council members, as in Houston. Sometimes the mayor has limits to their power where they only vote to break a tie, but get to veto either laws or budget items, as in the Mat-Su Borough. The borough mayor is elected by the citizens of the Mat-Su Borough.

In other cities the mayor may simply chair a multi-member governing body with little or no independent power, or may play a solely ceremonial role. This is what the city of Palmer has. The Palmer mayor's power is so limited that it is called a council/manager form of government.

The person that works well in a strong-mayor government type is charismatic, driven and a strong leader. The person that works well in a council-manager form of government leads by influence and persuasion by consensus. This means they allow the council to work through its decisions so things are more thoroughly discussed and voted on; making better decision as a group. 

So why would you have such a limited leadership role? With a strong mayor form of government, things can change fast. A new mayor is elected and department heads can roll. This mayor runs the day-to-day operations of the city and can make large changes quickly. This is great as long as you are the one in charge. But if you step back some for perspective, this strong- mayor government can end up with pendulum swing – from the east to the west to the south to the north. 

When you look at the council-manager government type, change comes slower. It takes longer to change direction because the manager runs the day-to-day operations of the city and they work for the entire council. It takes a majority of the council to change policy or direction. 

So what does it all mean?  Is it that the Palmer mayor has no true authority or responsibility? Quite the contrary, I believe the position of Mayor holds an even greater responsibility to citizens and to the positions of the entire council as a governing body, and yes the Palmer Mayor’s position has no more authority than a council person.  

That’s why I am supporting Edna DeVries for Palmer Mayor. She will get Palmer back on track.