Monday, September 10, 2007

Mayoral Elections: I Like Pike!

Tonight, I'm taking a little breather - but not a big one!

On August 23, I indicated that Dan Pike is my choice for our next Mayor.
This posting will confirm that decision, plus give more information, and why I have come to this important decision.

Mayor is our most important job, which means we citizens need to make the best decision possible during the upcoming General Election.

The Mayor manages the entire City Government on a day to day basis -a big job! In addition to managing is the job of leadership, which in many respects is much more difficult.
As Warren Bennis states: "Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right thing."
Since 'doing the right thing can mean different things to different people', the Mayor needs the skills to help find effective ways of accomplishing this, and with consistency.

All Department Heads, including Public Works Director, Planning & Community Development Director, Parks & Recreation Director, Police Chief, Fire Chief, Museum Director, Human Resources Director, Information Technology Services Director, Judicial & Support Services Director, are considered 'at will' employees of the Mayor.
This means the Mayor can hire and fire who he/she pleases at any time.
That's what our City Charter says, and until and unless we decide to change it, that is the way these important positions are filled.
In addition, the Mayor gets to appoint the Finance Director, City Attorney and Hearing Examiner, but only with City Council approval. The Library Director is also appointed by the Mayor, but with Library Board approval.
That is a lot of authority vested in one person!

The Mayor also needs to have a good working relationship with the City Council, each member of which is an individually elected public official, also answerable to the public.
Without good rapport with Council, a Mayor will have trouble doing his/her job, because Council has the responsibility for approving the budget and for enacting legislation.
A minimum of four Council votes are necessary for these things to happen.
Five votes from Council are sufficient to force the Mayor to take official action, whether the Mayor agrees with it or not.

With over 850 employees, an overall budget of over $200 million, including a General Fund budget of about $70 million, this person needs to have significant training and management skills!
Of course, these funds are public funds which must be managed according to special rules in the public's best interests.

An ideal mayor also needs to interface effectively with other officials and jurisdictions at all levels to enable making the best decisions and achieving the best results.
Since the mayor represents all citizens, he/she needs to be accessible to all citizens, groups and interests on a continuing basis.
But most of all, the mayor needs to earn the community's trust in order to be effective.
That takes a good communicator, with sensitivity AND a thick skin. A big order for anyone!

I strongly think Dan Pike comes closest to providing these types of leadership and mangement skills.
Next, because, this election is primarily by mail-in ballot, the timing of campaigns and the return of ballots has changed from has been customary in the past.
Here is information from the Whatcom County Auditor's Official website:

For the General Election:

Ballots Mailed to voters .....Wednesday, October 17th [ONLY 5 WEEKS FROM NOW]

Election Day ......Tuesday, November 6th

Election certification .....Tuesday, November 27th
[Our next elected Mayor will take office on this date, not January 1, 2008]
Today, I submitted a letter of endorsement for Dan Pike and it is now posted on his website:

Clicking on 'Supporters' gets to the endorsements:

Here are statements by people who endorse Dan Pike for election as the Mayor of Bellingham. Some of them gathered recently to show their combined support for Dan Pike.

From John Watts (& Joan Casey):
I have not known Dan Pike very long, but have made it a point to meet him on several occasions and exchange ideas about issues that our City government faces, which matter greatly to all of us.
Through that process I have come to know Dan Pike pretty well, I think.
That is why I am enthusiastically supporting him now.

Describing Dan comes down to 3 things; training, temperament & truthfulness.
He is first a man of principle, who has prepared himself by formal education and work experience to deal with issues vital to the public good.
With a degree in Planning from WWU's Huxley College, and a Masters in Public Administration from the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, Dan has demonstrated early in life his intention to dedicate himself to public service.
Those are rare, but desirable qualifications in my book.

Since then, his work experience has been valuable both to himself, and to the citizens of Washington.
Dan was markedly successful in managing major [$500 million] transportation projects -in close proximity to the I-5 Corridor- at a time of severe funding restrictions.
Now, Dan holds the position of Transportation Planner with the Skagit County Council of Governments [SCOG], where he is responsible for regional planning, and again has achieved notable success in getting projects approved and completed.
Attesting to this is the enthusiastic endorsement given to Dan by State Senator Mary Margaret Haugen, who is known for her ability to get necessary transportation work done in this state.

Dan came to Bellingham as a student in 1982, developed a love for this place, and is now a family man, who has achieved his goal of finding professional employment near enough Bellingham to live in the Lettered Streets Neighborhood.

Both Joan & I find Dan to be a refreshing new face in our local political arena.
He is someone we can work with, and feel we are heard.
He is someone who is driven by the notion of engaging citizens and making them feel a part of the public process.
His agenda focuses on the right priorities and issues in a positive manner.
He has managed to convey enough of these qualities to people in a short period of time, to emerge from Dark Horse status in the mayor's race to a legitimate front-runner!
In this town, that takes some doing!

But, now the reality is that Dan Pike needs our help to get elected.
He has good support, but not name recognition or the considerable funding enjoyed by his opponent.
We want to help Dan Pike get the support he needs, and soon!
A Pike for Mayor Campaign Kick-off event will happen on Tuesday, September 18, from 5 to 7 PM at the Bellwether Hotel. All are welcome!
Additionally, Joan & I will host a Meet Dan Pike event at our house on Thursday, September 27 at 5:30 to 7:30 PM.
Please come, meet Dan, enjoy refreshments, and offer to help the Pike for Mayor Campaign!