Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy

A mayor’s primary responsibility

On his website, a City Council candidate states that as a member of the charter review committee, he understands the governance structure of the city. Yet his mailer seems to confound that assertion by stating that “mayors make lots of tough calls.”

Mayors in strong mayor forms of municipal government, such as Chicago’s, can rightfully make the claim, but the same cannot be said for the honorific position of mayor in a council-manager city such as Burbank.

Knowledgeable observers of council-manager cities cite as an “effective mayor” one who “runs a good meeting” in carrying out the primary responsibility of presiding over city council meetings. But the mayor has only one vote on even the most crucial local issues and may not influence the outcome as much as a more dynamic colleague.

Mayors are important symbols and figureheads and must attend many ceremonies, but these hardly rise to the level of “tough calls.”


When it comes down to the selection of the next mayor, it is safe to say that the most important factor may be whether the council member did enough to “go along to get along” to rack up two votes besides his own to get the top spot.

Paul H. Wangsness