I don’t know who our next mayor will be. In a sense I don’t care as much who it is as I care about how he will do the job. The campaigns of neither candidate do much to inspire my confidence. While, like most people, I have opinions on current city issues, the candidate I want elected should be less about issues and more about tending to the business of running the city. I’d like that to be with fairness and efficiency. But even more important to me is that the new mayor might share at least some of the same values as I do. So what might they be?
I value my family, my home as a sanctuary, my security, and my privacy. I find it important to have my city protect open space, trees, and some views of our natural beauty. I value a neighborhood where I can feel secure and find a sense of belonging by knowing the people who live there. I chose to live and invest in Seattle and a neighborhood for what it is, not what an ideological theorist or mayor, intent on social engineering my lifestyle, would have it become.
I believe there are limits to everything on the planet, including growth. If the livability of our city is to be retained then we must not grow larger or faster than our infrastructure or geography can support just so a mayor can brag at national conferences.
Since I believe growth requires infrastructure, that means we need to be able to afford what we choose to do. If the cost of infrastructure for infinite growth leads to a bankrupt or unaffordable city, maybe we should rethink our methodology.
I’d like my mayor to administer a city that lives within its means just as citizens must. Doesn't it make sense to say that if a citizen can’t demand more pay so they can buy a new car, the city should not raise taxes to hire an extra 1,000 city employees?
I admit to being old-fashioned about this, but my values say our first priority should be to manage well what we have before investing in something new. That means maintenance. If the homeowner must save money to keep the roof repaired before taking a luxury vacation then so must the city get to taking care of the nearly $1 billion in deferred maintenance before cosmetic improvements or dream projects.
While ribbon cutting appears to be part of a mayor's job, I’d rather the mayor spend a lot more time out of the office and making sure the business of the city is getting done. The number of city employees and their pay has increased out of proportion to the population of the city. Our City Charter gives the mayor the responsibility of departmental accountability, and from every measure I see the current mayor has spent more time courting growth than making sure his appointed department heads got the work of the city done. Why not do what most employers do: base pay on performance?
I’d like a mayor who doesn’t think he is better than we are. He and other city administrators are the employees of the people. I really believe in the words that are part of the prologue to the state public disclosure law: "The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies that serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may maintain control over the instruments that they have created."
I’d like my mayor to allow city administrators to work directly with City Council members without his permission. Mutual cooperation and respect solves far more problems. And while we’re talking about respect, I’d like my mayor to be respectful of our neighboring cities and not have the attitude that Seattle is the center of the universe, or of all the jobs that drive the economy.
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