Three Distinct Views on Mayoral Responsibilities

by John Washington on July 6, 2012

This appeared in the Republic today:

Mayoral hopefuls discuss their top priority

First-term Mayor Jim Lane is being challenged by two candidates in the Aug.28 Scottsdale election.

Drew Bernhardt, a small-business owner and Marine Corps veteran, is a newcomer to city politics.

John Washington, a small-business owner, is a longtime citizen activist who served on the Airport Advisory and Channel 11 boards. He ran as a write-in candidate for mayor four years ago, dropping his bid before Election Day.

A candidate who wins a majority on Aug.28 will be elected outright. If no one achieves a majority, the top two vote-getters will compete in the Nov.6 general election.

The candidates will answer a question a week on Fridays through July. The first question:

What is the most important function of the mayor?

Drew Bernhardt: Public safety is the No.1 priority of the mayor of Scottsdale.

The tourism-based economy that supports our quality of life is a result of our safe neighborhoods, beautiful Sonoran desert, Southwestern lifestyle and our unique character as the “West’s Most Western Town.”

The mayor must protect that character by ensuring that Scottsdale remains a place that people want to live and visit. My first action as mayor is to put in place a comprehensive emergency-preparedness plan for the city that ensures that we are ready to protect and aid our citizens in case of a natural disaster or other major emergency. I am confident that our Police and Fire departments, alongside our city employees and community volunteers, can handle any emergency with the proper planning and leadership.

I will bring my leadership experience as a Marine Corps officer and combat veteran to ensure that our citizens can live, work and raise their families in a safe neighborhood, confident that their city government is working every day on their behalf. We will face significant challenges over the next four years, and I am prepared to lead and protect the city of Scottsdale.

Jim Lane: First and foremost, I believe that the mayor should always place the interest of Scottsdale above their own. If they can’t do that, then they shouldn’t run for office.

Nevertheless, I see two other functions equal in their importance. First, the function of the mayor is to fulfill the promises he/she made during the campaign. In 2008, I promised to use my background in the private sector to bring a business approach to our city government. Through financial and transparency reforms, we have sustained remarkable results, which continues to set Scottsdale on a strong path to recovery.

The second and equally as important function of the mayor is to set the tone and manner with which the council addresses its duties in representing Scottsdale citizens. Further to that, to be unifying in the effort to represent the city well and to protect the rights of all.

This is a responsibility I take very seriously. As Scottsdale’s first full-time mayor in years, I arrive at City Hall every morning humbled by the immense amount of trust my fellow Scottsdalians have placed in me. It’s a trust I will never break.

John Washington: The mayor is primarily the chief representative of and advocate for the citizens.

In that role, the mayor is also the public face of city government and the leader of the City Council in setting the agenda, tone and efficient conduct of deliberations.

The mayor must hold city government (via the city manager) accountable to the citizens, the city charter, the General Plan, city ordinances and city policies.

Top priorities of that accountability are public safety, good city planning, long-term financial stability, crisis management and citizen quality of life.

The mayor must lead the council in policy review, policy refinement and oversight of policy implementation. The mayor must ensure compliance with county, state and federal laws, but must also defend against overreach.

However, the mayor must also remain engaged with the citizens. One of the biggest obstacles is that people move here because of the results of past good governance, and take for granted its continuance.

The mayor must keep the citizens engaged by means other than bad governance.

The mayor must articulate issues early, intelligently, honestly and broadly.

Citizen participation is vital to maintaining the self-reinforcing “virtuous circle” of quality of life and a robust economy.

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