When you insist that the mayor of a council-manager city has only a ceremonial position, you are dead wrong. Yes, some treat it as such, for personal gratification. Others seek it as a step up the ladder, say to the state legislature. But all should see it, as some do, as an obligation to their citizens to lead the council in providing well-considered direction to the city manager and staff, not only on current operations, but on sound, far-sighted planning and development of the city. Voters are right to demand leadership, not just superficial performance from their mayors.
Styles of leadership differ. Mr. Thompson, a criminal trial lawyer, is assertive and argumentative in his approach. As mayor, I preferred to “lead from behind” in a more collegial manner to arrive at consensus based on sound analysis and reasons. Regardless, being mayor isn’t only showing up on all occasions to smile and be amiable; occasionally, you must make unpopular choices. The mayor and council must have the guts to do this and ability to explain why.
John Fox, Richland
Retired as Richland’s mayor in 2013