Monday, May 20, 2013

Selecting a Mayor Pro Tem

It's that time again. Now that Richardson's city council election is over, now that the sturm und drang of an election campaign has abated, now that the voters themselves have elected their next mayor, it's time to seat the new council and have them choose from among themselves, with no say from the voters, who should be their mayor -- mayor pro tem, anyway. What?!? If that sounds like maybe we haven't made as much change as we thought we were making, it's because it's true.

It's even less of a change when you consider just who we are swearing in as mayor. The voters ratified the preferred candidate of the establishment group that has backed every winning city council member in the last three elections. So, instead of the voters picking the establishment-backed council candidates who then pick the mayor, the voters pick the establishment-backed mayor themselves. Ironically, the anti-establishment forces that succeeded in getting direct election of the mayor into Richardson's city charter just ended up giving the establishment pick more legitimacy. The Richardson Coalition PAC owes Alan North a big thank you.

But enough hindsight. The time has come to pick a Mayor Pro Tem. Who should it be? After the jump, my thoughts.

Before we get to *who*, let's talk *how*. At the April 2, 2013, candidates' forum held at RISD's MST Magnet School, Laura Maczka "promised to support the selection of the next mayor pro tem in open session, versus the prior practice of doing this in closed, executive session." Let's see how she uses her leadership to get the rest of the council to go along with her on this.

Now, who. Most important to remember, the choice matters a great deal. Laura Maczka is Mayor in part because of her two years as Mayor Pro Tem. Laura is young and likely to serve another decade as mayor, so you might think it's premature to be considering her successor. You might think you can look at other reasons for choosing a Mayor Pro Tem. But life doesn't always work out the way it looks like it will. So, I would urge the council members to choose the council member they feel would make the best successor to Laura. Period. Forget seniority, next-in-line, favors-owed or anything like that. Choose the council member whom you think would best fill the responsibilities of the office: presiding officer of the council, official head of government, and representative of the city on all ceremonial occasions.

I have my own ideas who that would be. But, I'm not on the council. Consistent with my thoughts in deciding whom to endorse for mayor, I intend to place my faith and trust in the council itself to know who among them is best able to serve as their team leader. I've done my part by choosing the council. I leave it to them to choose their leaders.
I've long thought of the Richardson mayor's role like that of a chairman of the board, a speaker of the house, a foreman of a jury, a captain on a football team. That is, a leader chosen by his peers. If he doesn't have the trust and confidence of the rest of the team, teamwork breaks down and the team falters. No outsider should pick the team captain and expect the team to jell. In the case of the mayor, the voters may pick the members of the team, people who have their trust and confidence, but the council should pick its own leader, someone who has their own trust and confidence.
Source: The Wheel.


Mark Steger said...

I'm being told privately that I'm putting it backwards when I wrote, "Laura Maczka is Mayor in part because of her two years as Mayor Pro Tem." I'm told that she was made mayor pro tem because she was picked back in 2011 already to become mayor this year. In any case, the council should pick a mayor pro tem as if they are grooming someone for mayor. Because they might well be.

Mark Steger said...

First, who. Congratulations to Bob Townsend on being elected by his fellow council members Mayor Pro Tem.

Next, how. It was done in open session. Although it might be more accurate to say the vote wasn't taken after a secret executive session as in past years. There was one nomination, no discussion and a unanimous vote. That suggests there was some private deliberation done beforehand. If so, it would be ironic if the council just replaced a legal executive session with an illegal walking quorum.

Sassy Texan said...

"If so, it would be ironic if the council just replaced a legal executive session with an illegal walking quorum."

Imagine that.

Cheri Duncan-Hubert