After many months of working tirelessly to promote a new form of government for Columbia, the time has come for our citizens to cast their vote regarding “Strong Mayor”.
While some of you are not able to vote in the upcoming referendum on Tuesday, December 3, most of you do conduct business in Columbia. The outcome of this vote is critical to having an effective, accountable government that answers to the people while keeping our community safe and our economy moving forward to create more jobs, new tax revenue and overall enhancing the quality of life in our city. Regardless of where you live, the outcome of the “Strong Mayor” referendum will impact each of our Chamber members, their employees and their customers. “Strong Mayor” is all about accountability.
The following items highlight several critical areas that would be enhanced if Columbians vote to implement of “Strong Mayor” form of government, because then there would be one person, the mayor, accountable to implement, monitor, enact change and hold their managers accountable. If the mayor fails, then the citizens know who to hold accountable.
- Safety is a critical issue in Columbia right now and the city needs a Police Chief and department who is accountable to one person – the mayor. Since 2007, there have been seven police chiefs and the upcoming search will implement the eighth. While some crime statistics have reduced, the perception of failed leadership in the Police Department and the safety issues on the streets of our community have our citizens wanting answers on what is being done to protect our city. The safety of our community is critical to the city’s overall success and the mayor, working with the Police Chief, would be responsible for protecting our citizens – the buck would clearly stop at the mayor.
- Under “Strong Mayor”, the Mayor of Columbia would have administrative power to make decisions to move the city forward and would still rely on advocacy to keep City Council and others informed and supportive of progress being made. Key projects and initiatives would be acted on in a timely manner eliminating deferrals, frustration and missed opportunities for the Columbia business community.
- Columbia is a rapidly growing metropolitan area, but many business leaders acknowledge the current system is holding the city back. By allowing the Mayor of Columbia to have administrative authority, the city will increase accountability and create a more streamlined process that fosters job creation and economic growth.
- The mayor would not have unchecked power: The council still would set the budget, make laws and set policy; the mayor only gets one vote. Voters could fire a problematic mayor in four years.
- Under “Strong Mayor”, the current form of representation on City Council would remain as it is today to provide for elected officials who represent the community as a whole. “Strong Mayor” would not eliminate the 4-2-1 system.
To sum it up, the “Strong Mayor” form of government would make the mayor a chief executive with the authority needed to deliver on pledges made to the voters. It is also a system that gives voters the ability to toss out mayors who don’t deliver. That is exactly the kind of accountability we want to achieve with a “Strong Mayor” system.
If you want the person who manages our city accountable to you, the voters and members of the business community, then we ask for your support for the “Strong Mayor” government. We may not be voters in the city but we are impacted by the manner in which our city is managed and its impact affects our quality of life and economic growth. We urge you to support “Strong Mayor” form of government and ask that you encourage others to vote on Tuesday, December 3 for a more accountable future that is safe, prosperous and offers the quality of life we all seek for our community.
Chair, Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce
Immediate Past-Chair, Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce