Strong Mayor or Strong Citizenship?

By Jenny Paulson – A primary argument proffered by proponents of the ‘Strong Mayor’ form of municipal government is that an elected official, who would run the City of Pueblo, will be more responsive to input and pushback from the citizenship.

if history tells us what would happen, let’s look at our seven elected City Council members, half of whom lack complete accountability to the people who elected them, and yet they continued to get re-elected despite their absurd lack of accountability and that they squandered or taxpayer money for years (eg Bob Schilling who’s continually humiliated our city with absurdities and acts outside of his authority as north side Councilman and that they operate with an unbelievable 6-7 million a year shortfall).

Thus based on history, such a Strong Mayor, as proposed, would only be challenged once every four years an since most incumbents tend to win in any office, thus the Strong Mayor wouldn’t have much of a challenge anyways, if Pueblo doesn’t have a stronger Citizenship. The Strong Mayor, when he or she serves the final second, and possibly lame-duck term, may not inspire civic responsiveness at all.

Money and power are factors in Pueblo, we all know this. We aren’t certain as to the motivations as to why some run for Council, and we are a little cynical of why someone would run for the Strong Mayor position and are afraid that the “power brokers” of this City will use their money to elect “their” candidate, running over quality, sincere people who might want to run (as was the case of Council for many years, a long era when Pueblo’s millionaires were typically elected and had the power to hire an honorable City Manager who wouldn’t do as he was ordered by the money people) and regular, caring citizens feared running for office.

What needs to happen rather than for us to transition from a Council-City Manager form of government to a Strong Mayor, is a Strong Citizenship, one that becomes more involved in the decision making of this City. Citizens have become aware that our City has issues – that our 1954 Charter is so outmoded, it was created before the Civil Rights Movement – but it doesn’t mean we have to agree to a slapped out Charter revision as proposed in 2A – we can agree to update our Charter by implementing more checks and balances through an updated Charter to include a new Code of Ethics, a Citizen Review Board and Ethics Commission, modern Neighborhood Councils to help hold government accountable, perhaps term limits on the Police Chief, and more.
 
Today Pueblo citizens can choose to modernize the charter through a Charter Commission, which would include an at least year-long study of every part of the Charter, through elected citizens and an outside consultant, trained in helping Cities move forward. Multiple questions can go on the ballot in 2018 so that w can decide on multiple issues (unlike 2A which has a one yes/no question and doesn’t disclose all the minor changes), but our advisement this year is to turn down the Strong Mayor, and the hacking of our Charter, and let us as a community take the time, give our input, and decide what we want for our community.

We may want change and may dream that a “mayor” might be the answer. This one simply isn’t it, it was written in violation of the Charter and election laws. It was written without input from the people. It’s not just a ballot item for a Strong Mayor, it’s the hacking of our already hacked Charter. There’s a reason, and we agree, that current City Management and City Council were given an over 95 percent vote of disconfidence from a recent survey by over 100 police officers. We agree with our officers that that it’s time for change but this proposition 2A isn’t it at all. The unions said no to input into this mayor, we weren’t invited to meetings. They refused to give us documents early on that we are analyzing now. So it’s time to say thanks, but no thanks to this tyrannical Strong Mayor and all the “slipping in” of Charter changes that violation our founding father’s wishes, clear in the first part of our Charter, that any change of government be made with a Charter Convention.

Let’s work together to create a Charter that provides the safety, quality of life and public input that we deserve. Let’s be Strong Citizens Pueblo. Vote NO to the Strong Mayor and YES in 2018 to a Charter Commission (which means if we pass next year, even if those obstructing the sacred public trust win, we can reverse this unethical hacking of our government). We are starting NOW with the creation of cutting edge “Empower Pueblo” Neighborhood Councils, you’ll soon be invited to the one in your neighborhood, they are going to help empower us, neighborhood by neighborhood, so we have a voice and will be ready to focus on our year-plus Charter study.

Here’s your test. Contact your City Council representative and those running for office, and state your case, for or against the Strong Mayor. Then let’s see what kind of responsiveness we get from elected officials and those running, and see if they’ve even reviewed the legislation that is in violation of local and state law.  

Jenny Paulson is the publisher of Southern Colorado Independent Magazine.

Southern Colorado Independent Magazine publisher Jenny Paulson is a 20 year veteran niche magazine publisher, an independent journalist, photographer, publisher, blogger, activist, world traveler and a proud mom. She has worked as a political activist, for a lobbyist, a pr firm, the governor and for a representative in Washington DC. She has lived in her home of Pueblo, CO ten years.

About Jenny Paulson 83 Articles
Southern Colorado Independent Magazine publisher Jenny Paulson is a 20 year veteran niche magazine publisher, an independent journalist, photographer, publisher, blogger, activist, world traveler and a proud mom. She has worked as a political activist, for a lobbyist, a pr firm, the governor and for a representative in Washington DC. She has lived in her home of Pueblo, CO ten years.
Contact: Website

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