Wednesday, March 4, 2020

What Level of Administrative Experience Has Bernie?

His supporters often cite his experience as Mayor of Burlington, VT.

And, to be fair, he was. Except, that title is not what most of us think of when we envision the position.

  1. In cities, like Burlington, VT and Cincinnati, OH, the mayor's job is largely ceremonial. The occupant presides over council meetings, shows up at local events, and - basically - is a figurehead with very little power.
  2. In the case of Burlington, the major is NOT elected, but selected by the council. The person chosen is not always the most respected council member, but the one who demonstrates that he is all about the title and small perks.
  3. The city manager, a hired position, handles the day-to-day administration of the city, keeps the finances straight, and is responsible for making sure the city runs smoothly.
The city manager arrangement is not a bad one. It acknowledges that the skill set for running a city is not the same as needed for running for office, making nice speeches, and not dying of terminal boredom on the banquet circuit. Unfortunately, that the title is the same for those actually doing the work as it is for those standing around, looking important, can lead to misunderstandings.

1 comment:

Amy Bowersox said...

My father was a City Manager for many years. Back when I still lived with him, the position of Mayor of our city rotated among members of the City Council, and was mainly the chair and front-person for the Council. Now, I understand, it's a directly-elected position, but the City Manager still acts as the chief administrator. The council-manager form of government is used in most smaller cities in the United States.