Some of your neighbors opposed
Vincent Merkle Jr.
Stephen Moore, Jr
Joe L. Ruthven
Joe P. Ruthven
Ashley C. Troutman
Louise "Weebo" Watkins
I have served nearly 8 years on the city commission with two different mayors and city managers. Strong Mayor proponents who claim that the Council-Manager system relinquishes too much power to the City Manager are simply wrong. Under the current system the commission makes three critical decisions:
Overlooked in the debate about the power of the City Manager is the role of one-on-one meetings with commissioners in the decision-making process. The City Manager and Staff go into great detail briefing individual commissioners about major issues.
It is my opinion that the current system ensures a collaborative, methodical approach to deciding policy. It is a checks and balance system that ensures that no one individual (City Manager, Mayor, or Commissioner) can run off on his/her own. A Strong Mayor system, on the contrary, places too much power in one individual.
Don Selvage, Commissioner
They say the Commission and Mayor will balance each other, but that’s not true. The Commission cannot make the Boss Mayor do anything! And the Mayor gets near limitless powers: Line-item budget veto, hiring and firing all City staff outside Lakeland Electric, controlling departments that support Lakeland Electric, creating and eliminating City departments. This is a dangerous proposal.
Executive and Community Volunteer
Today Lakeland’s city government is a successful “business-like” or “corporate” model. And it works! Our City Commission is the “Board of Directors”, setting direction and strategy. The City Manager is the “CEO”, responsible for implementing the “Board’s” directions. If the CEO (City Manager) fails he or she can be fired at any time. Under Boss Mayor, no matter how badly the Boss performs they can only be fired on Election Day.
Also, The Boss Mayor proposal adds a lot of costs: AT LEAST $100,000 plus benefits for the Mayor and $30,000 for a 7th Commissioner, plus unknown staffing and legal costs to deal with the changes. Why throw additional and substantial taxpayer’s dollars at something that’s not broken?
Hollis H. Hooks
The strong mayor issue is reminiscent of why Polk County changed from an elected School Superintendent to an appointed professional. The reason voters overwhelmingly supported the change was because each time an elected superintendent won, they released many of the qualified personnel and replaced them with their friends. This is what will happen with a strong mayor form of government.
As a lifetime resident of Lakeland, I prefer to be governed by seven people instead of one. Therefore, I am adamantly opposed to a strong mayor form of government for our great city. This is not the right thing to do and not in our best interest.
Population size does not matter. Ethical, Efficient, and Effective government DOES matter. There's nowhere in the book of governance that states as a city grows the council-manager form of government is no longer relevant. However, proponents of the Strong-Mayor will have you to believe that size matters and b/c of that Lakeland now needs a Strong-Mayor. Not true! What does matter is that essential city services are delivered to ALL citizens ethically, efficiently, and as effectively as possible. There is no better system that promotes what matters better than our current form of Council-Manager.
Ashley C. Troutman
This idea is being funded by one person who claims primary residence in Florence, Italy and has already put in $229,000. He even offered to pay for a special election is August when our citizens are on vacation or preparing their children for the start of school.
Former Mayor & Commissioner, 14 years
As a retired political scientist with a Ph.D. in the field from the Univ. of Florida, and among other things a teacher of State and Local Government for many years, I cannot resist commenting. You have good reasons for opposing strong mayor-council (you really are not a commission) govt. However, you miss some of the best. Council-manager government delivers better services at a lower cost for cities the size of Lakeland. It frees the manager up from a lot of ceremonial duties strong mayors have to do. It tends to make councils less factional and provides stronger representation for the various areas of the city. Strong mayor-council works best for places like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles where cities are quite heterogeneous and councils often divided by various factions. Lakeland is not New York or LA. Cities with less than 300,000 in most instances will benefit most from the council-manager form of government and save money doing it. And term limits? Even sixteen years is too long for any mayor.
I was perturbed by The Ledger's lead headline about the so-called "strong mayor" initiative ["Strong mayor may go to vote: Residents' group wants city's top executive elected," January 27th]. It leads one to believe that poor, downtrodden citizens like myself are at the forefront of this movement, but, in fact, the primary proponent seems to be a bunch of lobbyists hired by business interests who would like to recast Lakeland government to more fully serve themselves.
The change to the Lakeland Commission-manager system was made in 1922 and the first city manager was hired in 1923. According to the City Clerk’s office, we have had 15 City Manager’s since 1923. Personally, I think the fact that good people have been selected to manage has given stability, and the Commission has made good policy. This combination, plus the fact that the Commission has held Managers accountable is a major reason this is a great place to live. There is no problem with our current form of government because many of the much larger, dynamic and livable cities in North Carolina, Texas, Arizona, California and other states have the Commission-City Manager system.
I’ve been involved in Lakeland’s civic life for many years. I own a business in town and served on the City Commission for 8 years, as my father did before me. This whole dust-up is an overreaction to the police debacle a few years ago, but that’s ancient history now. Tony Delgado is doing an awesome job, and there’s no reason to change and that’s why I’m voting No Boss Mayor.”
The highest performing cities with premier quality of life attributes are those with governance systems that are aligned with and compliment the personality or “DNA” of that city. Some communities prefer a more authoritarian governance model while others prefer a collaborative system. Lakeland was built on a foundation of community collaboration. Lakeland’s collaboration reaches across the, private, not-for-profit and public sectors to include the leading businesses and organizations of the community. Our current governance model, the Council-Manager form as it’s called, is a collaborative governance model patterned after the corporate Board of Directors – CEO governance model.
Lakeland’s collaborative approach greatly leverages the community’s resources, strengthens its capacity for problem solving and enhances our ability to pursue opportunities. Collectively this has allowed us to effectively compete with much larger cities. Lakeland is one of the leading cities in the Central Florida Region and is highly regarded throughout the state of Florida.
Today the community is being asked to switch to an authoritarian governance model called Executive Mayor. As a former mayor of Lakeland and past president of the Florida League of Mayors I understand that this model works for some cities. While this model would have made my job a little easier as mayor, it is not a good fit for Lakeland. Making life easier for those in power is not a noble pursuit. I highly recommend the collaborative governance model for Lakeland. Your current Council-Manager governance model has served you well and you have an amazing future with its continued utilization. It benefits the entire community and by its design encourages us to continue building on the great foundation we inherited through collaboration and cooperation.
Having lived in Lakeland since 1960 and having worked for Lakeland Electric for 31 years, I think I am qualified to say the present Council/Manager form of city government works very well and does not need to be changed.
Pd. Pol. Adv. paid for by No Boss Mayor Committee, 3062 Shoal Creek Village Dr, Lakeland, FL 33803.