A room full of mayors
I’ve been hunting for a manual about being mayor of a third class Missouri municipality for quite some time. It doesn’t exist. There are state statutes, of course, as well as Lebanon’s code of ordinances and the Missouri Municipal League’s limited guidance. Often, snippets from these sources contradict each other or require legal interpretation. Then there is the solicited (or unsolicited) personal advice.
Due to the murky entanglement of half-guidance and personal opinion, I’ve committed great effort coming to terms with a vague job description, high demand on my time, and low pay. All of this while attempting to prioritize my young family and my growing business. I need more time and more mayoral resources.
Closing in on my first year as Mayor, I’ve settled into my role by being less reactive. I want the knowledge and wisdom before I need to make a decision or steer the governing body toward a solution. One of the greatest sources of knowledge and wisdom as mayor has developed over the past few months, as Mayor Sly James of Kansas City called Missouri Mayors to a series of Mayor Forums.
I was unable to attend the first two Mayor Forums. The one in October 2016 focused on critical local government issues, with 18 mayors from across the state of Missouri meeting with various candidates running for statewide office. Mayors could offer a collective voice for their respective municipalities, as they spoke with the candidates about economic development, education funding, strategies to fight crime, and transportation funding, among other topics. As I refuse to identify as a Democrat or a Republican, when many of these candidates came to Lebanon, I received no invitation to speak with them one-on-one. This meeting would’ve benefited me, as well as our entire town.