Directly Elect Mayor in Boulder

November 19, 2011

On November 6, 2009, I suggested we should directly elect our Mayor because there would then be at least one person in town who really could say s/he “represents a majority of Boulder’s voters.” The runners-up would reveal relative voter share of other points of view. I would even recommend we use instant run-off, or ranked voting, in this race.

But I would stop there. Whether Boulder’s future should include a subcommunity-based ward/district system (5 subcommunity representatives, 3 at-large council members, and the mayor) should take a back seat. Let’s keep a steely-eyed focus on directly electing the mayor in 2013. Keep it simple, stupid.

Let’s preserve our strong city manager/weak mayor system. The mayor will continue to run meetings and represent the City for various ceremonial functions and on regional boards, but in all other respects, the responsibilities would remain unchanged. We can make it a four-year term or limit it to two year cycles, but we should have an eight-year term limit.

Matt Appelbaum will be a fine mayor, but our current process for selecting the mayor and deputy mayor is flawed. While I understand the concept that “to the victor go the spoils,” Boulder’s pick 5 (or, occasionally, 6) city council member elections make determination of the “victor” problematic. If Suzy Ageton’s opposition to 2B was, indeed, a factor in “disqualifying” her in the minds of five councilors this time around, should a 212-vote difference in a 26,494 vote (.8%) referendum really matter that much? Rather petty, methinks.

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