By William Tauro
For quite some time now, city residents often talk about what life in Somerville would be like with an appointment of a city manager at the helm rather than a mayor.
Somerville With a City Manager:
A city council or board of alderman can oversee local policies and budgets and appoints a professional city manager to handle administrative tasks on a day-to-day basis.
Somerville With a Mayor-Council Government:
In this form of government, the mayor is elected separately from the council and has strong or weak powers based on the municipal charter.
Just take a good close look at Cambridge, one of the most richest and thriving cities in the country.
If you noticed in Cambridge with a city manager, that’s where the money is with plenty of funding for two officer police cruisers units, state-of-the-art equipment, prospers business development and growth, plenty of housing development, abundantly of affordable housing people friendly development requirements with no loopholes or political challenges, and with not as much potential political corruption opportunities that may have the control over puppets in a municipal planning and development department. Most of all you can hold a city manager accountable and run your city like a fine oiled machine.
With a mayor of course you can pose for photos at grand openings, start road races, hold a broom at city cleanup’s for a photo-op and kiss a baby or two in a parade.
But with a city manager you can know for certain where your tax dollars are going, how they were spent and how they got there without any mind-boggling unanswered questions remaining in your mind on if any backdoor dealings took place getting there.
I’m not saying that Somerville is a bad place, but it can be so much more of a better place to live, work and play with much more transparency and less questionable situations and decisions.
According to WORK LIFE: A Mayor Vs. a Town Manager
By William Henderson
Strong Mayor vs. Council-Manager:
Most towns and cities have either a strong-mayor or council-manager form of government. In a town or city with a strong-mayor form of government, a mayor is voted into office and makes decisions on behalf of the general population. In cities and towns with a manager, a manager is hired to fulfill specific managerial and operational job duties.
The primary difference between city or town managers and mayors is how they get their positions. A city or town’s general population votes a mayor into office but has little to no say about hiring a manager. The authority of hiring or firing a manager rests solely with a city or town’s council or with its mayor, if there is one. Giving such authority to a small number of people, rather than the entire city or town, is a downside to this form of government, say some critics.
Mayors and city managers wield similar powers. They direct a city or town’s daily operations, oversee personnel and put forward budgets for approval. Mayors and city or town managers have different roles as well. Mayors, for example, are politicians first and foremost and should be, according to Wes Hare, city manager of Albany, Oregon. City managers are not, and should not aspire to be politicians, Hare says.
An individual can run for the office of mayor as a Democrat, Republican or unaffiliated candidate. Once elected, mayors can put forward policy changes that not only serve their constituents but also their political party. City and town managers do not represent the interests of a political party and cannot, according to guidelines set by the International City-County Management Association Code of Ethics. Instead of representing a political party’s interests, a city or town manager implements the interests of a city or town council or a mayor, if there is one.
Change in the Air:
Some mayor-led cities and towns are considering revising their charters to their form of government. For example, residents in Port Orchard, Washington — including its former mayor — want to switch to a city manager form of government. They believe that their population has swelled to the point where management makes sense. In 2009, residents of Bainbridge Island, another city in Washington, made the switch. Residents in some Utah cities are making noise about doing the opposite — going from a council-manager form of government to a strong mayor form of government. Dennis Nordfelt, the former part-time mayor in West Valley City, Utah, urged its City Council to put a full-time mayor into office.
The choice is yours and its not too hard to accomplish and decide which is best for Somerville!