Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Separate Mayoral Campaign Forum

Now that Richardson voters have decided to directly elect their mayor, an election campaign is upon us. I know it's over five months until the election, but that's not keeping the players from jockeying for position. Amir Omar is the only declared candidate so far, but other candidates are likely.

It's not just the candidates who are getting active. After the jump, an unfortunate move by the Dallas County North Republican Club and Richardson Republican Women.

The Dallas County North Republican Club and Richardson Republican Women issued an invitation (via Facebook) to Amir Omar to participate in a "mayoral forum" on March 27, 2013. Omar quickly accepted.

The charter amendment that led to direct election didn't change the powers of the mayor. He's still just one vote among seven. He does get to wield the gavel at council meetings. He does get to represent the city at ribbon-cutting ceremonies. But in no other way is his power above that of the other six council members, who can outvote him if he tries to do anything the majority of the council doesn't like. It's still a council composed of seven members, all with just one vote.

Still, I suppose a separate "mayoral forum" was inevitable. The public perception is that the mayor is somehow above the rest of the council, so why not have a separate forum for the mayoral candidates? This perception is wrong. There's no need for separate forums for mayoral candidates. How would the questions be any different for the mayor than for any of the other six council candidates? "Are you right-handed or left-handed and will that affect your ability to wield a ribbon-cutting scissors?"

In 2011, the council candidates accepted seven or eight (or ten or twelve, I lose track) invitations to candidate forums. Are we going to be subjected to twice that number in 2013, one set of forums for regular council candidates and another set of forums for mayoral candidates? Before that happens, let's hope the Dallas County North Republican Club and Richardson Republican Women rethink their plan for a separate mayoral forum. Let's hope the mayoral candidates gently recommend this when invited to participate in any other mayoral forums.