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Opinion: Vote ‘No’ to ‘Boss Mayor’ in Clearwater

Beth Rawlins | Politics | Political Consultant

Tampa Bay Reporter does not take stands, endorse, nor support candidates or issues. However, we do accept guest opinions on issues in the Tampa Bay area. Today, Beth Rawlins, chair of No Boss Mayor Clearwater, urges residents to vote “No” to a proposal that would change their style of government from a council-manager format to a strong-mayor structure. The referendum will be on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. For related stories, click here and here.

I urge you to VOTE NO the Strong Mayor charter change. Downtown special interests aren’t getting everything they want from City Hall and would prefer one person to lobby and persuade. We need to tell them NO.

I am opposed for 3 primary reasons:

1) Professional vs. Politician

We currently employ a professional city manager accountable for day-to-day operations, but the proposed change would replace our professional management with a politician. A city manager is hired for their expertise and experience. Continuing education keeps them in touch with the latest management practices, changing technology and regulations, and new challenges like “creating” water through reverse osmosis or dealing with more deadly hurricanes.

Professional managers are bound by a strict Code of Ethics. They don’t run for office, solicit campaign contributions or make campaign promises.

By contrast, a Strong mayor is beholden to political contributors and election supporters. Anyone can see the potential harm in one politician managing the bid process and having discretion over awarding contracts. When it comes to running the day-to-day operations of multiple complex services, you don’t want a novice politician in charge.

2) Concentration of Power

If passed, the strong mayor would be responsible for creating the budget, hiring (only 5 positions would require Council approval) and firing of employees, negotiating city contracts, acting as our purchasing agent, creation and disbandment of departments, etc.

This is simply too much power in one person’s hands, especially when the only qualifications are that you live in the city and cannot be a felon.

Again, this idea is being pushed by downtown special interests. Creating one very powerful mayor means they would only have to convince one person to get their way, and they can fund the mayor’s campaign for a little extra leverage.

3) Accountability

Our city manager reports directly to the council, is accountable each and every day and can be fired at any time, for any reason. In contrast, a strong mayor is accountable only once every four years at the ballot box, when the power of incumbency is strong. Some strong mayors may have the skill set to do a good job, but eventually a charismatic politician with no ability to run the city will be elected and a lot of damage can be done in the four years they are in charge. It’s time to step up and stop these moneyed special interests from high-jacking Clearwater’s government and I hope you’ll join me in doing so. This will be the VERY LAST QUESTION on your ballot and I urge you to VOTE NO.

No Boss Mayor | Clearwater Mayor | Full-Time Mayor | Politics | Elections | Referendum | Tampabay News

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Opinion: Vote 'No' to 'Boss Mayor' in Clearwater
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Opinion: Vote 'No' to 'Boss Mayor' in Clearwater
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Beth Rawlins, chair of No Boss Mayor Clearwater, urges residents to vote "No" to a proposal that would change their style of government from a council-manager format to a strong-mayor structure. The referendum will be on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.
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TB Reporter
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