It doesn’t matter if the mayor oversees a large urban centre, regional district or a small rural area, the role is the same, but the priorities are more locally centred. And the compensation varies.
The mayor is not an emperor, the single arbiter of public safety, or princess charming looking after her flock of peasant serfs…despite the ego they may bring to the table. Mind you, ego IS necessary to withstand public scrutiny and criticism and manage the discourse of a diverse elected council.
The mayor is, however, the spokesperson for the community, the socially conscious protector from partisan manipulation of agendas, and the place where the buck stops when all else have deflected the awkward issues to avoid dealing with them.
Herein lies the dilemma. With multiple candidates espousing promises, glad handing the public as conquering heroes on behalf of a desperate cry for the need of change, who do you choose?
One way is to examine the past records of each of them regardless of their individual political experience. Ask questions at the door or in the news services and demand sufficient answers.
Have they just recently jumped on board the election cycle because 50-100 of their friends have convinced them they would make a difference if they were in the seat? Does their resume reflect considerable civic responsibility. Are they running to get recognition for some other objective or single agenda crusade and this adds to their resume? Is their motivation primarily the pennies, prestige and perks? Is there an axe in their tool kit to seek retribution for some past civic malfeasance? Are they committed to fiscal accountability? Do they know how to demonstrate leadership or just bombast.
Getting those answers is not simple. We research like demons to find a deal on a used vehicle. We don’t invest in research of the leader of our community who has direct impact on our property taxes and available municipal services. We rely on often-partisan media reporting or literature left in our mail slot. We chatter over the water cooler and at local coffee shops.
As an incumbent query, ask if municipal strategic objectives were made, how many and how successful. Do you feel you are getting the full story of the process of decision making, or has the general public effectively been removed from input. Has there been unnecessary drama and negative relationships with other local or provincial officials, at public or private gatherings. How is staff morale? Do they fear retribution from above? Is the mayor reasonably approachable, functionally available and demonstrably considerate of opposing points of view?
The decision you have in selecting a mayor is critical for your future. If you want transparency and accountability affecting your personal life for the next four years you have to vote. Apathy is not a choice.