Atascadero is the only city in the county that does not have a directly elected mayor. Instead, the position is rotated among council members, who serve one-year terms before passing the gavel on to someone else.
We believe it’s time to change that system. A year is hardly enough time to learn the job, and frankly, not every council member is necessarily going to have the skill set or even the inclination to serve as mayor.
Passage of Measure E-10 on the Atascadero ballot would give voters the power to directly elect their own mayor. We strongly urge a yes vote.
The job of mayor is too important to be left to chance or to be subject to the behind-the-scenes politicking that can occur when mayors are appointed by a city council.
Today, mayors often are called upon to serve on countywide and regional boards and commissions, to travel to Sacramento to lobby for local governments and, should a major event occur, to be a spokesman for the entire community — often with the national media looking on. On top of that, mayors are in charge of chairing council meetings, and can set a tone of inclusiveness and civility — or contentiousness and favoritism.
A good mayor should not only be knowledgeable about the issues and challenges facing the city, but also be articulate, gracious, diplomatic and assertive enough to be a successful advocate for the city.
A mayor also must be prepared to accept the additional workload and responsibilities that come with the position.
We believe the voters should have the chance to evaluate candidates for mayor and choose the one best suited for the city’s most visible and powerful position. That would make the mayor more accountable to the voters, and it could also help constituents feel more connected to their local government.
We also urge voters to select a four-year, rather than two-year, term for mayor. Indeed, we wish all local cities would consider switching to the longer, four-year term.
A four-year term would give the successful candidate enough time to learn the position, become established as the “face” of the community, build ties with other agencies in both the county and in Sacramento, and work on meeting long-term goals — without worrying about having another campaign right around the corner.
Bottom line: The Tribune strongly endorses Measure E-10 — the direct election of mayors — and Measure G-10 — a four-year term for mayors — on the Atascadero ballot.