Denver has a mayor. Nearly all the rest of the cities in Colorado do not. They are run by city councils, which make policy and appoint city managers to carry out council orders and cut ribbons and so forth. It’s what poli-sci people call “council-manager government,” like the one that runs ye ole Republic of Ireland. In Pueblo, Colo., a small group of vocal locals have formed the awkwardly named “Committee to Assess Local Mayorship,” otherwise known as CALM, to get themselves a real mayor. Council management is nice and all, they say, but they want someone to complain to when the trains don’t run on time– or at least when the garbage isn’t picked up or the roads plowed.
CALM has kicked off a campaign to place an initiative on the ballot this November to make the change. Today, Sam Mamet, executive director of the Colorado Municipal League, is scheduled to brief Pueblo City Council on the difference between the mayoral system and the city-manager system.
What CALM wants is a full-time mayor to oversee city government. City Council would be unchanged, but the mayor would have the job of drawing up the annual budget, hiring staff and running the city day-to-day. The mayor would be elected citywide and would not vote at council meetings, but could veto council policy decisions.
[T]he current council form of government is ineffective in dealing with neighborhood problems, such as drainage. [Former City Councilman Ted] Lopez, who represented District 4 and the Bessemer neighborhood, agreed with that.
“Right now, the city manager runs the city,” he said. “I don’t think council members get around to the old neighborhoods in Pueblo to see the problem there.”
Lopez said that during his term on council, business owners would complain that the city needed a mayor, but they were unwilling to say so publicly for fear of antagonizing the city manager.