This morning I filed the necessary forms to launch my candidacy for the position of mayor of Cottage Grove. Since I was the first, and so far only, person to submit said paperwork, I can safely say that I’m absolutely the most popular of all the official candidates for that position! Of course, I’m therefore also the least popular of all the official candidates for that position, but I figure I should concentrate on the positive, right?
So here’s a bit of municipal trivia for you (and the standard disclaimer, as always, still applies): some cities have what’s called a “mayor-council” form of government, where the mayor is the chief executive officer of the city, and makes lots of important decisions on his/her own. Cottage Grove does not have this type of government.
Instead, Cottage Grove (along with all the other cities in Oregon with, I think, around three exceptions) has a “council-manager” form of government. In this type of government, the mayor is almost a ceremonial title, with no particular power to bind or loose beyond that of any other council member. The only real mayoral “superpowers” are a) access to a little tiny version of Theodore Roosevelt’s “bully pulpit“, b) the ability to call an emergency council meeting in the case of a natural disaster or similar, and c) the ability to singlehandedly place an issue on the council’s agenda (though not necessarily to get it passed nor even get a vote to take place).
While the mayor’s powers are pretty similar to those of any other councilor, there are a couple of key differences between the role of mayor versus that of councilor:
First, the mayor acts as a sort of ambassador for the City of Cottage Grove. If any dignitaries from elsewhere happen to come to town, the mayor is the presumptive person who greets the dignitaries and asks them how their trip was, etc. Likewise, the mayor gets to sign proclamations for things like Yak Shaving Day and Potato Awareness Month, and then hands copies out to the appropriate recipients with a hearty handshake and photo op. There’s also some dog-and-pony-show stuff to help the City win project grants and the like.
Second, the mayor acts as the traffic light for council meetings. The mayor holds the gavel, and it’s his/her job to make sure that everyone on the council gets a chance to speak on any given issue that comes before the body, that meetings aren’t derailed by extraneous chatter, and that nothing gets skipped over. Some familiarity with parliamentary procedure can really come in handy here.
So with all that said, this November, those of you who reside within the city limits of Cottage Grove (and are registered voters) will get to decide whether or not I end up filling that role.
Later on, I’ll try to persuade you that I’m a good choice, but I think I’ve gone on long enough for one post.
In the meantime, though, if you just can’t wait, feel free to take to social media in order to thoughtfully compare me to Thomas Jefferson and/or Adolph Hitler. ‘Tis the season, after all!