Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Does Charlotte want a lame duck mayor?

It appears the Charlotte City Council will place the same restriction on former mayor Patrick Cannon's replacement as it did on former mayor Anthony Foxx's replacement: You can't want the job bad enough to run for it.

Mayor pro tem Michael Barnes said Monday that there's a consensus among council members that the person they appoint as mayor won't pursue the office heading into the 2015 election. That's how it worked last year when the council chose one of its own, Patsy Kinsey, to fill the five-month vacancy left by Foxx.

The obvious reason: The appointed mayor would have a huge visibility advantage in the next election, if he or she were to run. Take the "interim" off the appointment, and council members could be choosing a mayor for several years, not just to finish Cannon's term. That's a weighty burden.

But if the council is queasy about that, then maybe they shouldn't be making the selection at all. We've already said that the city's voters, not just 11 council members, should get to choose who leads Charlotte for the next two years. Council members shouldn't compound their mistake by telling the next mayor that he or she can't be mayor beyond that.

Doing so may prevent a strong leader from volunteering - "It would be a deal-breaker for some people," Barnes acknowledged. More importantly, it steals from one of the mayor's primary responsibilities - to articulate a vision for the city, then persuade council members and the public to support it. Who's going to care what Mayor ShortTimer thinks about Charlotte's future? How will it be possible to build coalitions and pursue agendas, to lead? 

A weakened mayor may be better for the council, which already has significant power in Charlotte's council-manager form of city government. But that leaves Charlotte with just a figurehead leader - a Queen Charlotte - until we finally get to choose a mayor again.

Peter St. Onge



Kevin M said...

Here's another thought: Maybe this city council shouldn't be making any political appointments until the FBI's investigation is complete.

James Edgar said...

It's an interesting discussion, but ultimately it doesn't matter. Now that 70% of the people living inside the city limits are registered Democrats, there will never be anything but Democrat mayors and Democrat super-majorities on city council for at least 100 years.

Anonymous said...

Hold a special election! http://www.change.org/petitions/charlotte-city-council-call-a-special-election-for-the-mayor-of-charlotte

Richard Clark said...

@clt2013 I signed the petition, but they may want to add something to that site to suggest only Charlotte residents sign. Half the "recents" that I'm looking at are non-clt-meck and anyone seeing those names is going to laugh.

Tsao Nima said...

So, what are the odds of them selecting ANOTHER Mayor who is on the make?

I'd guess it's pretty high if they select from the "usual suspects".

I agree with Kevin M.

Why not wait for the investigation to settle?

Or hold a real election.

I'd also pass a law that says that if a mayor steps down due to corruption, then his replacement CANNOT be from the same party.

Geez, how stupid can we be?

Wiley Coyote said...

We have a Mayor Pro Tem.

Use it. That's why we have one.

We don't need a mayor at this point because they ARE a figurhead.

If you have to have a mayor now, hold a special election and let the people decide. That would include all parties on the ballot.

Otherwise - as others have said - no appointments until the FBI has finished its investigation which will likely take until 2015 anyway.

Shamash said...

Lame Duck?

Sounds like an improvement to me.