Talking about the mayor

Gainesville City Commissioner David Arreola wants to give Gainesville voters the opportunity to consider a charter change to create a “hybrid strong mayor” system in order to create a “central executive that is accountable directly to elected constituents.”

“I really need to hear how you feel about this,” Arreola told his fellow commissioners during a briefing. “For too long people have known that our structure of government is an impediment. We don’t have to make radical changes”

Below are a number of Power Point charts Arreola prepared to lay out his hybrid strong mayor proposal.

Under the existing system, the mayor serves as both presiding officer (runs the meetings) and has one of seven commission votes. Beyond that he possesses no individual authority not shared by his fellow commissioners.

Arreola’s hybrid proposal suggests that all charter officers serve “at the will of the Mayor” But that the mayor’s charter hires and fires would be “subject to veto rules by the City Commission”

The mayor would continue to run commission meetings but would have no vote in the proceedings nor veto power over commission decisions.

The mayor would also be subject to impeachment or recall.

The commission would have veto power over the mayor, but would no longer collectively supervise charter officers.

And since the mayor loses voting power, his proposal would add one more commissioner (a total of seven) in order to avoid gridlock by tie votes.

Charter officers would serve “at the will of the Mayor,” but their independent status “will remain intact.”

“How do we set up structure of government that allows us to be accountable, effective and good stewards,” Arreola posed.

“Let’s keep the conversation going.”

OK then.

Take a look at Arreola’s hybrid-strong mayor proposal. If you don’t like it, maybe add some suggestions of your own. If you think the current system works fine as is, say that.

During the discussion it was clear that other commissioners did not share Arreola’s hybrid mayor vision.

Commissioner Gail Johnson said the proposal contains “entirely too much power for one person.”

Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos does support the idea of a strong mayor, but not Arreola’s hybrid, which he said would “create a lot of confusion.”

Commissioner Harvey Ward pointed out that Gainesville voters created a Charter Review Commission to recommend changes every ten years. That commission met just last year and did not recommend a stronger mayor.

Commissioner Reina Sacco wondered what would happen if “someone wildly popular but horribly incompetent” gets elected mayor.

Commissioner Desmon Duncan-Walker said “this type of centralized power potentially leads to abuse of power.”

And Mayor Lauren Poe said that without a vote “I no longer have any power. I’m now simply executing the will of the commission.”

Arreola wants to “keep the conversation going,” so let’s do just that.

What do you think?

Respond via the Facebook posting or email me at In a future posting I’ll relate your comments.

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