Everybody wants to be mayor

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As I have watched the discussion about an elected county mayor unfold, I have to chuckle. Politicos wanting another political position, what a shock. But with so many unanswered questions, how is a voter to make an informed decision?

The first question: What actual authority this mayor is going to have?  This is an important question, because the specter of litigation regarding any created veto power has already been raised.

Second, how much is this new position going to cost? I imagine that no one looking at the office is going to do the job without all the trimmings, including, but not limited to, staff, office space and maybe even a few monthly television shows.  In the city of Tampa, the mayor’s office costs in excess of $1.5 million year.  How much is it going to cost the county, and what current services does everyone want to cut to fund this new position?

Third, will this simply add more politics to the county government?  It is one thing for staff to pay little attention when a single commissioner tries to influence a department.  However, you won’t be ignoring someone who does not need four other votes to fire.  While this may be appealing when you think your candidate is going to be elected, imagine what happens if your candidate loses.

Fourth, is a county mayor going to need his/her own legal representative?  The city of Tampa has shown us what happens when an administration and council don’t agree.  So that is another $150,000 a year, plus that attorney will need office space, secretary, etc.

Then there are the more philosophical aspects.  For example, I have watched as many current politicians have already started maneuvering themselves for a potential run for this position.  The question then becomes will this new county mayoral position cause a disconnect between local leaders who are suppose to be looking out for the city and their ambitions to run for the county, thus giving the county’s political views more influence in the city?

Whatever the answers to these questions, the one thing for certain is that information is scarce. Everyone is talking about the position as a magic potion, a panacea to the city and county woes, but if ultimately all we are doing is shuffling the deck of the same leaders is there any benefit? Only with detailed information can citizens be informed before voting on the best way to FIX IT NOW.

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