The dynamic between the Soldotna city council and the mayor will remain the same, after the council rejected a move to change the mayor’s job description.
Council member Linda Murphy sponsored an ordinance that would have asked voters to approve giving the mayor’s office a full vote on the council. As it stands, the mayor only votes in the case of a tie, though the office does have veto power. That veto power would have been lifted. There weren’t major concerns about making such a change. Both Seward and Kenai have similar systems in place. But The concerns were enough to prevent the question from making the ballot. Council member Tim Cashman says it solves a problem that doesn’t exist.
“I would be worried that we would be putting something out, trying to fix something that really hasn’t been even asked for by the public that I’m aware of. What we have works really well and has worked really well for a long time. We have a really strong administration and I really like the way that our system works and I would be worried about different mayoral dynamics that could upset that somewhat.”
Murphy, who spent her career as a municipal clerk, says the mayor, the head of the city’s legislative body, should be included in overseeing the city’s administration.
“Right now the charter says that the manager is appointed by and reports to the council. Which means the mayor is totally left out of that process. I find that a little ridiculous that the mayor, who chairs our meetings, that the people elected to be our top guy, doesn’t have a say in hiring the manager or supervising the manager or in doing the annual evaluation of the manager.”
Mayor Nels Anderson says it wouldn’t change much about how he does his job, though that might not be the case for future mayors. The veto power he can exercise now he says also doesn’t do much, because four votes on the council override a mayor veto. The same number needed to pass a measure in the first place.
“In the past, if the issues are, from my perception, not significantly important, if I can’t get more than just a split city council, I’m going to vote negatively on it because I’d like to have the council be more supportive, more than just a one vote split if we’re going to have motions passed. Now, that’s just me. Anybody else who sits in this position might take an entirely different viewpoint from that.”
And, as if on cue, the vote was a 3-3 tie. Anderson cast his deciding 4th vote against the proposal, leaving the role of the mayor in Soldotna unchanged.