Before developing any thoughts on the suitability of the candidates currently running for the office of Mayor of Richmond, I thought it would be worth clarifying just what our mayor is supposed to be able to do for us, and what one has to do to run. Starting out at the Palladium-Item website by searching for the keyword "Mayor" was discouraging, as it lists former mayor and current Chamber of Commerce president Dennis Andrews as the person currently occupying the Mayor's office. Hmmm.
I popped on over to the City of Richmond website to see what it said. Quote, "The Mayor is the City executive and head of the executive branch. He or she shall faithfully perform the duties and responsibilities contained in I.C. 36-4-5."
I.C. 36-4-5? Oh wait, I think I know what that means...it's Indiana Code section 36 subsection 4 paragraph 5. According to it, here's what the Mayor is supposed to do:
- enforce the ordinances of the city and the statutes of the state;
- provide a statement of the finances and general condition of the city to the city legislative body at least once a year;
- provide any information regarding city affairs that the legislative body requests;
- recommend, in writing, to the legislative body actions that the executive considers proper;
- call special meetings of the legislative body when necessary;
- supervise subordinate officers;
- insure efficient government of the city;
- fill vacancies in city offices when required;
- sign all bonds, deeds, and contracts of the city and all licenses issued by the city; and
approve or veto ordinances, orders, and resolutions of the legislative body.
Okay, so lots of working with the legislative body – the City council – and lots of good management/oversight stuff. Sounds fun. I wonder what your qualifications have to be? Here we go: "A candidate for the office of mayor must have resided in the city for at least one year before the election."
And that's it. Wow. So in order to be the executive leader of our city, in order to run for mayor, the only official qualification is that you live here for a year. That's maybe not so helpful.
Maybe I could offer up a job description for the Mayor's office:
WANTED: multi-talented individual to guide unique mid-western city toward greatness. Must have impressive experience facilitating cooperation and collaboration amongst many parties with diverse agendas and astonishing personality quirks. Excellent written and verbal communication skills a must, expert word processing, e-mail and web research skills a plus. Must be able to set goals and develop implementation plans that address future needs as well as present day ones. Candidates should apply in person to the voters of Richmond, no calls please.
It will be an interesting race, that's for sure. Mayor Hutton seems like she's been busy working for the citizens of our city, but I'm not sure a lot of people in the area know doing just what, so she'll need to get the word out about that. Ron Chappell is a name that we see in the news now and then, but it's usually as a part of some controversy, prosecuting one person's alleged discrimination or defending another's, so we'll have to see what vision he has for our City. I don't know much about Rick Thalls or Danny Black, but I hope they contribute something new and useful to the conversation.
And with the residency requirement fulfilled on every count, I guess it will be up to the people of Richmond to decide if one of these people should lead our city in the bold manner outlined by...ahem, I.C. 36-4-5.
This editorial piece originally appeared as a commentary segment on episode #15 of the Richmond News Review podcast.