This proposition changes our legal form of government to a City Manager form. Although it is a technical change, it simply returns us to the way our city operated between 2005 and May of 2016. Former Mayor Nancy Edmonson recognized that the city was too complex for a volunteer/part-time Mayor to run efficiently and legally. She hired David Stall to run the day to day operations and council then set policy. We continued to operate this way under former Mayors Jayo Washington, Dolly Arons, Matthew Webber and Rick Moses.
After last year’s election, Mayor Kim Sanford had a different vision and wanted to run the day to day operations herself. The resulting chaos has cost the city thousands upon thousands of dollars but the real cost is the damage it has done to our reputation. When you show up at a council meeting and see a TV news van, you know something is wrong.
I never again want to get a call from a city employee on a Sunday afternoon telling me that the Mayor sent him a text message saying that he was fired and to stop by City Hall the next morning to turn in his keys.
Former city employee Brenda Kent, a long time employee of the city, had this to say after an outburst by Mayor Sanford at City Hall:
I am so thankful I have been planning to retire this year as I’ve never met anyone with authority act like this in my life and don’t ever want to again.
I do not want our city employees to be treated like this. Limiting the Mayor’s power to hire and fire employees has not prevented these types of outbursts at City Hall. The citizens need to make it clear that this is unacceptable behavior and we can do this by voting FOR Proposition 2.
Although the actions of Mayor Sanford clearly brought this potential change of government to the forefront, the actions of a single mayor should not result in a change to city code. After all, we can vote to change the Mayor every two years.
And that is exactly where the problem lies. The day to day operations of the city should not change at the whim of whomever is elected every two years. We need to make these changes to our city code so that that future mayors understand their role, the role of council and the role of the city manager. Regardless of who the mayor is, this change makes clear that the city will be run professionally on a day to day basis and that council as a whole sets policy for that manager to follow.
There are some people misrepresenting what this change to city code means. They are telling their neighbors that the change puts complete power in the hands of an unelected city employee. This is a false and misleading representation of what the change actually does. The change simply clarifies that day to day operations will be run by the city manager, who reports directly to the city council. All policy, resolutions and ordinances remain in the control of city council.
This change ultimately frees the mayor to represent our city in the broader community without the burden of worrying about the day to day operations of the city. It allows voters to have direct input to council for their ideas to improve our city. And it clarifies that the paid city manager reports to the council and is accountable for the efficient and legal operation of the city.
I am strongly in favor of this change.