A.L. is better with four-year mayors

Published 10:31 am Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mark Anderson in his letter to the editor on Sunday urged Albert Lea’s voters to vote no on the charter amendment to extend our mayoral terms to four years instead of two years. He maintains that this gives the voters the ability to completely change the council every two years.

In other words, throw the rascals out if we don’t like how they manage the city. Even though four members of the vouncil stand for election every two years, we have seven members on the council, and the mayor only has one vote. On important matters, the councilors seldom vote unanimously on those important issues, so the voters have ample opportunity to make their wishes known and to make important changes at the next election.

What’s wrong with our antiquated system of elections every two years?

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1. Any new mayor has no input to his first year’s budget because it’s the previous council’s budget. Then he must stand for re-election in the second year, and, if he loses the election, the new mayor will be stuck with his predecessor’s budget. We have heard several qualified people say, “Why would anyone take the job under these conditions?”

2. Even though the mayor has only one vote out of seven, he or she sets the agenda and runs the meetings. The councilors need to get to know each other and to become comfortable with each other in order to work together effectively. This takes time. Six of the councilors have this time but the mayor may not.

3. The job of mayor is a great deal more complex than in previous years. The mayor represents all of us in the city and is the one person that state and federal elected and appointed officials wish to deal with. It is important that our mayor have the time to develop working relationships with these officials who can contribute state and federal resources to help our city prosper. A two-year term is just not long enough to accomplish this important task. There is a good reason why most of the surrounding communities of our size have gone to a four-year term. To maintain that we need to keep the present system because we have always had this type of system is simply ridiculous. Any business that operated this way in the past usually ended up in Ed Shannon’s history-of-Albert Lea stories. They are no longer with us.


Anthony R. Trow

Albert Lea