Joe Pickett for Strong Mayor!?!

Did you see this piece on last week?

[S]ince 2004, El Paso has had a “strong city manager system,” which a majority of city governments nationwide now use. It’s something Pickett believes has diluted the power of elected officials.

. . .

[Joe Pickett] opposes the strong manager form of government. “I saw a lot of large municipalities even trying to get away from that, ” Joe Pickett said, “Because they create these positions of almost dictator.”

. . .

“Not only did the city manager himself completely take control of operations,” Pickett said, “He created a situation where all the deputy city managers are loyal to him.”

Pickett believes Tommy Gonzalez had too much power when he managed El Paso City Hall and took away what used to be a key role for elected city reps: constituent services.

A City Manager does not answer to the voters.

At least, not directly.

A City Manager answers to City Council, and frankly, up until the last election, El Paso’s City Representatives have let the City Manager make all the decisions for them.

They get all their carefully cultivated information from the City Manager. All of their staff but one report to the City Manager. The City Manager controls the information that your City Representative gets.

Your City Representatives don’t read El Chuqueño. They only get the City Manager’s side of every issue.

And look where it’s gotten us.

Maybe El Paso has just gotten bad City Managers with the two we’ve had so far. Maybe next time we’ll hire a good one. Or maybe we need to revamp with system, giving a City Manager a more limited portfolio.

Or maybe we can scrap it all together and go back to the strong mayor form of government.

The problem with any system is more the personalities involved than the system itself.


  1. Could Pickett, or anybody, run for mayor on a platform of getting a new charter amendment to eliminate or at least alter the strong manager / weak mayor / weak council system?

  2. I never did like this idea, and have said so many times. We do need to return to a strong Mayor Form of City Government, but we will need better candidates than those we’ve seen over the last nearly twenty years.

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