Mayors versus city managers


I am not a resident of Cedar Rapids, but I attended the League of Women Voters Mayors Forum earlier this week. I left the forum wondering who I would vote for if I could vote for mayor in the Cedar Rapids election. I asked Cedar Rapids City Manager Jeff Pomeranz who he is going to vote for. He just laughed.

So that got me to wondering. Several Linn County cities have city managers and city administrators, but in the majority of our cities the city clerks and/or mayors run the day-to-day operations of the cities. What qualifications are needed by a candidate elected to be the mayor of a city which has a city manager or city administrator?

Which cities have managers or administrators? I could not recall so I looked it up here and listed them below:

Alburnett – Mayor/city clerk

Bertram – Mayor / city clerk

Cedar Rapids – City Manager

Center Point – City Administrator

Central City – City Administrator

Coggon – Mayor / city clerk

Ely – City Administrator/city clerk

Fairfax – Mayor / city clerk

Hiawatha – City Administrator

Lisbon – City Administrator / city clerk

Marion – City Manager

Mount Vernon – City Administrator

Palo – Mayor / city clerk

Prairieburg – Mayor / city clerk

Robins – Mayor / city clerk

Springville – Mayor / city clerk

Walford – Mayor / city clerk

Walker – Mayor / city clerk

I am not saying the cities with managers or administrators do not have mayors, councils, or city clerks. I am saying that several cities have professional managers or professional administrators in addition to mayors, councils, and city clerks.

If a city has a professional manager or professional administrator, what qualifications does the mayor need to possess? I asked one of my doctors that question and he said, “He/she needs to be able to go to coffee with people, preside over council meetings, and have good customer service skills”. Maybe it is that simple? I would add leadership, vision, and the confidence to represent the city. But do they need a PhD and 20 years of management experience when a professional manager/administrator is in place? That is something for you to decide. Please figure it out by election day. –Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

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